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I looking at booking a holiday in Egypt in July..  I would like some advise and thoughts of the emending war.  Yes it going to happen lets get real anyone who’s served in the forces knows that you don’t deploy half of the UK’s forces just for fun or to make a point. The shi*s going to hit the fan
Two things could happen as I see it:
1The government could advice UK residents not to go there that means if we do insurance will be more than the holiday
2The airlines wont fly there
3Worst of all I book now and pay £600.00 and the price plummets and they pay me an advertising fee
Was anyone holidaying in 92
 in Egypt, I know Sharm if very touristy and all the rest of it but I would like some of your views on the subject and any advice anyone work in the government offices in the know,  

Sean  
 

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Hi Sean

Someone was asking advice yesterday on the television about going to Dubai next month and they were told that it would be fairly safe to do so. You are still quite some distance away from where any conflict could be.

Cheers Ron
 

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I was there 91-92.  No probs.  You're a VERY long way from Iraq!  If Israel gets dragged in then Egypt might get touchy, but you could make that call nearer the time.  If you're really worried, I believe some travel insurance covers cancellation due to war etc, but a lot don't - check!

I think your point 3) is probably the most likely, but I wouldn't gamble on the strength of it.  You could watch the websites and do a last minute thing - there aren't that many places in Sharm, and they're all habitable, even the cr*p ones. Regal Dive and Crusader to cheapies - just got back from one myself.  Watch the Divernet website for an indication of holiday price direction and last minute bargains.  No doubt many other sites exist - anyone got any suggestions?
 

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I've booked a liveaboard for the beginning of June. I'm counting on the war being over by then and things being more or less back to normal. If the attack starts  early in March, as seems likely, things will probably be a bit chaotic in Egypt for a while as the tourist industry will almost certainly collapse, as it always has in the past in connection with wars and terrorist activity in the Middle East. The tourists stop going there and many of the dive centres and liveaboards more or less cease operations until the tourists start coming back. Charter flights are suspended and travel within Egypt is difficult as many domestic air and bus services also stop running. Hotels close or sack half their staff and run on a skeleton staff.  I wouldn't book for March or April but I think you can count on things running smoothly by July. There wil probably be a lot fewer tourists and divers but that's nothing to be sorry about.
 

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Personally I would go, even if the war is going on.  During the last Gulf war I was travelling across Africa, being in countries such as Algeria and Niger.  I didn't have any problems whatsoever but then times were different as terrorism was a lesser risk.

I received an e-mail from Regal diving informing recognising such concerns. I enclose it below:


We recognise that you may have some concerns regarding booking your holiday to the Red Sea or elsewhere. A number of regular clients have made enquiries regarding the current problems and where they stand should hostilities commence. The Regaldive team hope that you will find the information below useful.


Regaldive's Responsibility
As a Tour Operator, we operate holidays to a number of destinations around the world. The Foreign Office issues advice regarding the safety and suitability of destinations. At the moment, there is no advice against travel to any of the destinations that we are sending our guests to.


'What If' ?
If you book a holiday to the Red Sea and hostilities commence before you travel and the Foreign Office advises against travel to that destination, Regaldive would take the following actions :-

1. Fully reimburse any monies that have been paid, no questions asked.

2. Look at alternative destinations where there is no foreign office advice against travel. There may be a cost differential, either up or down, which you will be advised of.

3. Under your instructions, Regaldive would rebook your holiday to Egypt for a date in the future.


PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CHOICE IS YOURS.


From feedback we have received from our resort team and clients that have recently travelled, the tourist resorts of Sharm and Hurghada continue to operate as normal, and the treatment of westerners in Egypt is as respectful and friendly as it has always been.
 

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Gotta chime with Regal on this one.

I was working in the Maldives during the last work out in 91 and other than the odd picture of Saddam here and there, you wouldn't have known anything was going on.

You have to remember in situations like this, that all tour operators are gonna take their lead and advice on how to proceed from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - the UK equivalent of the US State Department. The Yanks (the 4% of the nation that actually travels outside the continental US, at least) are very much in the habit of referring to the State Dept. website - as it's very well updated with all kinds of up-to-the-minute advice on where's hot and where's not. Brits, on the other hand, have a stoic fatalism that means they turn up unadvised (for the most part) and hope for the best. That might change, of course, if we ever go to war with either Ibiza or Corfu......

Any way, keep an eye on the FCO website (see below) and make your own call.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390572

What I will say is that the last time ANY tourists (German) got into any trouble (November 17th, 1997) was in Luxor and not Sharm. There was no war on at the time and they (the 'bad guys') were opportunist.....rebels without a clue, so to speak.

Not widely known is that Egypt's President Mubarak ordered that the gunmen involved 'not be taken alive under any circumstances' as a message to any other fuckwit who might decide that tourists are an easy target. ALL the gunmen were subsequently cornered in the cave systems around the Valley of the Kings and 'delivered of the tap'.

The other thing to understand is that the only money to which Egypt can claim is tourist dollars - they have shit-loads of sand, but, alas, it's the wrong type for using in building!

Consequently, tourists are treated with the greatest of respect and any local (including itinerant taxi drivers) that might try and give you any mince, whatsoever, are quietly taken into a dark room and introduced to rubber bats in ways not necessarily deemed condusive to the perpetrator's good health; before being sent to some distant and as yet unchartered bit of the country.

This means that the mode-just in Sharm and other resorts is one of barely-concealed 'we love your dollars' - and frankly, if that's the worst of my concerns, then hey, I'd book my holiday and enjoy it.

Hope this helps.

(Edited by Bren Tierney at 1:27 am on Feb. 5, 2003)
 

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When I was out in Sharm in December, we encountered various attitudes to westerners, particularly British and American.

Generally, because of their need for hard currency, the Egyptians are exceptionally hospitable BUT there can be exceptions.

Even if they hide it well, most Egyptians are Anti-war and therefore anti-American, and to a lesser extent anti-British.

We were often asked about why our goverment wanted a war.  In one shop we were treated to a debate about the war and heard that we would 'be sorry' if a war started.

Because everyone in Sharm works in tourism, this is the exception rather than the rule but be aware of it.  

Sharm is a 'soft target' and anyone wanting to target westerners could do worse than the 30 odd boats loading up in the mornings.

Personally, I would think twice about planning a trip in March/April, but I would like to get over there in July/August.  Hopefully it will be all over by then.
 

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I agree with Bren that Egyptians treat us with great respect and are far too dependnet on our rourist dollars to risk losing their income by making us unwelcome. The last thing they want is for us to stop coming. Also, 99% of them are peace-loving, nonviolent people. I've never felt threatend in Egypt in any way, even when walking in the narrow lanes of Cairo alone at night. However, as John points out, that does not mean they all love us. What is more, the reason I wouldn't book to go to Egypt for the next couple of months is not that i think I would be in any danger but that I would probably face a lot of unnecessary hassle. It might well be that when I got there the dive centre and hotel or liveaboard I had booked with had temporarily ceased operations due to lack of custom, that the charter flight home had ben cancelled, so that I had to try to get on the bus from, say, Sharm or Hurghada to Cairo and then try to get a seat on the twice weekly Egyptair flight to London, which would probably mean a day or two in Cairo at my own expense etc etc. That's why I would go now, before the balloon goes up, or wait until hostilities in Iraq have ceased. All the experts seem to think it will only take a few weeks.
 

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I repeat, I hope Baldrick has a cunning plan.

Booting bad guys out of Kuwait is one thing, invading someone's country is another.  Exactly how hard would you fight to keep someone out of England?  Remember the Sovs in Afghanistan? Vietnam ring a bell?

I understand the reasons for going in - I do NOT understand the optimistic estimates for subduing Iraq. Be prepared for guerilla warfare and internal terrorism...and a long drawn out conflict.

Blimey - where did that come from??!  Must lay off the pop...

I agree with the points on the Egyptians being non-threatening.  I've walked past gangs of lads in Cairo, and been prepared for the cr*p you'd get in the UK from similar sized groups.  All I'd every get was "Welcome in Cairo"!!!  The Upper Egyptians (from Southern Egypt - yes really!)  seriously p*ssed off the Cairenes when they started blowing tourists up - they didn't understand how reliant Egypt is on tourism and foreign investment.  They were soon put right...  
 

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OT:
I'd be willing to bet the Iraq war doesn't last more than a month. The Republican Guard will probably put up a good fight but the rest of their defence forces are just poor, uneducated national service conscripts. The experts (I'm not one!) say they're poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly motivated. Why should they be willing to sacrifice their lives for a bastard like Sadam who's been plaguing the life out of them and their families for decades? They know they haven't got a chance in #### against the best trained troops in the world, with their overwhelming technology. The tragedy is that tens of thousands of ordinary iraqis are going to lose their sons, husbands and sweethearts because of this megalomaniac's dreams of grandeur.

(Edited by John Gulliver at 11:11 am on Feb. 7, 2003)
 

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I'm with Mdemon on this, I think history has demonstrated many times that hoping for a swift resolution to a conflict is, at best optimistic, at worst naive. We're going to be invading (unless someone pulls a rabbit from the diplomatic and political hat) someone elses homeland and whether or not your leader is a dictator, most people will take that pretty badly (Falklands and Maggie? anyone remember that little skirmish). Plus the whole of the middle east love to hate the Yanks and you'll get resistance based on that if nothing else.

And lets not forget the reasons given for not invading Iraq last time: because we didn't want another Brits in Ireland/Yanks in Vietnam/Russians in Afganistan situation

Anyhoo, back to Seans holiday...I booked my jaunt at the last minute (booked Weds, flew Sun morning) via  http://www.bsactravelclub.co.uk/offers.htm   so you don't necessarily have to book now.

Chee-az
Steve
 

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Regards replacing heads of states, historically we haven't been successful as those replacements we have supported in the past often turn out to be worse.  Take the ex colonies of the British Empire. I look and think that in many cases their population would be better off with a British Governer General.  Of course we don't have a government with the guts to say so.      

(Edited by budgy at 12:42 pm on Feb. 7, 2003)
 

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OT: Budgy, it's easy for us to think that way. When I was in India a few years ago, I said that if I was an indian I'd be on my knees begging the Brits to come back and sort things out. You'd find it hard to find an indian that agreed with me, though. As the Cypriot guy said in the film Exodus, "I'd rather be ruled by the British than by any other colonisers, but why should I want to be ruled by ANY foreigners?". There's no doubt that the Iraqis would be better off without Sadam, of course but whether or not it's right of the US and UK to "help them get rid of him" is another question. However, they have obviously decided to do so, so let's hope it goes as quickly and painlessly as any war can be.
 

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Hmmm... Iraq's got a bit of coast...  Reckon it'd be worth setting up a dive centre once they've gone in?  Plenty of squaddies needing R&R...!
 

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Pulled this out of the Travel section of the Telegraph:

"War zone holiday dilemma

You've booked a Middle East trip. Should you cancel and will you get a refund? Paul Miles reports


Holidaymakers with trips booked to the Middle East with specialist operators may be able to opt for an alternative destination or get a refund if they feel unhappy about travelling under the threat of war with Iraq. Those who have booked holidays with larger operators, however, face standard cancellation charges.


Left to wonder: how much will a possible war affect tourism in countries like Egypt?

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that it had received "a large number" of inquiries from worried members of the public planning to travel to the Middle East.

Stuart Lewis, of Peltours, a Middle East specialist operator that takes 40,000 people a year to Egypt, Israel and Jordan, said: "There's a time for booking conditions to be put in the drawer and this is one of them."

Peltours customers booked to travel in the next few months will be able to change destination up to a week before departure, even if the FO advises that it is still safe to travel to their original destination, said Mr Lewis.

Noel Josephides, of Sunvil Holidays, which offers holidays to Syria and Lebanon, said it would allow customers to change or defer their holidays but would have to pass on any cancellation charges levied by airlines.

Alan Suleyman, of the London-based operator Cyprus Paradise, which takes 20,000 people a year to Turkish north Cyprus, said the company would allow clients to change the dates of their holidays up to two weeks before departure.

Arabian Odyssey, based in Cheltenham, which takes travellers to Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is allowing cancellations as late as a day before departure. Customers would lose just £100 - an administration fee - which could be put towards the cost of an alternative holiday.

The company's managing director, Liz Pepperell, said that a group of 40 was about to travel to the United Arab Emirates and Oman and no one had cancelled.

The Derbyshire-based company Greentours said it would be offering full refunds to people wanting to cancel bookings for a 14-day trip to Iran, due to leave in April. A tour of Turkey in May, however, which goes within 100 miles of the border with Iraq, will be subject to standard cancellation fees.

Most larger operators, such as British Airways Holidays, Explore Worldwide, Lastminute.com, Thomas Cook and Kuoni are sticking to normal booking conditions and offering amendments or refunds only if the FO declares a destination unsafe. Most said Middle Eastern destinations remained safe for visitors and would probably remain so during a war.

A spokesman for the Federation of Tour Operators said it was in close communication with the FO and customers could be repatriated at short notice if necessary.

Kuoni, which launched its first Egypt brochure this week, has seen increasing interest in Egypt and Dubai. A spokesman for Kuoni said that, at this stage, standard cancellation fees apply, but that the company would look at helping clients on an "individual basis" if they decide they want to return early should war break out.

Dragoman, an adventure travel specialist, has 25 people going to the Middle East in February and March. The company leads tours through Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Libya. "During the Gulf War, we ran trips all around the world and had no problems," said Charlie Hopkinson, marketing and product manager.

For some tourists to the Middle East, an impending war is not an issue. Elizabeth Chipp, 22, studying at the University of Birmingham, is due to go to Lebanon in April. Afterwards she intends to travel through Syria and Jordan. "I am determined to go and I believe that these countries will remain safe and welcoming," she said.

Report filed: 25/01/2003"
 
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