To Egypt, After Luxor, With Caution

Dec 15th, 1997, 10:01 AM
Neal Sanders
Posts: n/a
To Egypt, After Luxor, With Caution

I have just returned from a two week visit to Egypt (11/30 to 12/13). Here is what I can report for anyone contemplating a visit after the massacre at Luxor. 1) The Egyptian goverment has gone overboard to ensure the safety and security of tourists. The complacense that allowed terrorists to kill at the Temple of Hapchepsut has been replaced by a visible, armed police presence. Even lightly visited monuments (Esau, for example) are well-patrolled. 2) There are no tourists in Egypt, which works to the benefit of those who go. At site after site, our group was the only one present. Imagine the Valley of the Kings -- or the tomb of Nefertari -- with no lines, no time limits. That's what is like at present. Also, the dollar has soared against the Egyptian pound -- to 3.38 from 2.8 before Luxor. 3) The killings were something with which the Egyptian people are still trying to come to terms. The terrorists (or the five of six who have been identified) were university students from "good" families. The Egyptian press is dissecting their lives (as we have Timothy McVeigh's) in an effort to comprehend what went wrong. 4) Tourists are very welcome. We felt it in town after town -- to the point of being thanked! We were apprehensive about going, but did so on the presumption that the government would take swift, decisive action to make the country safe. It appears that they have done so.
Dec 17th, 1997, 09:48 PM
Sue Hamby
Posts: n/a
Neal, I also just returned from Israel and Egypt and
agree with you entirely about the safety now. I think
this is probably one of the best time to go to Egypt
because of increased security. I really felt badly for
the people in Luxor since most of the income comes from
the tourist business and as you well know, the tourist
business in Luxor has been devastated. Because of the
decrease in tourists, it was really a good time to get
good buys.
Dec 18th, 1997, 07:23 AM
Posts: n/a
Let's not get to lax here folks. It amazes me when someone such as the average tourist goes to say, Egypt, sees some so-called "security" and deems the area safe for all other tourists, welcoming them into one of the most dangerous areas in the world. Look, in plain simple English, here is the situation in and around Luxor in a nut shell. Several of my staff just came back from there last night. They ended up staying longer then they wanted due to a client's needs. Nonetheless, my staff were there. What you need to remember is this, the security that one sees is at best, no better off with training then say, the average store detective at K Mart. They have very little experience, are poorly equipped, their two way radios usually don't even work, these so-called secuity personnel are running around with fully automatic weapons, with lots of extra clips, and could be easily taken out by the average U.S. Army soldier with minimal effort. Now, let me ask you this. Do you REALLY believe that a well trained terrorist group, or for that matter, as was the case in Luxor, some young people hell bent on carrying out a terrorist act are going to be reconsidering their attacks just because a bunch of 17-20 year old "kids" with machines guns are standing around looking important? PLEASE. Let's get real here. Do you know what would actually happen if something were to break while you were visiting your favorite site in Luxor. Let me tell you. LEAD. Lots of it, in panic fire, with little supervison, little control, no common sense, and certainly, no concern for the tourists in the cross fire at that moment. I can refer you to a recent situation in the Mid East where local police engaged some terrorists involved in a bus shooting. We all know what happened there. YES, Egypt got hit hard from this Luxor incident, and YES, they have taken precautions to show a "visible presence", and perhaps, to some minimal extent, that helps maintain the ILLUSION that everything is "OK", and traveling to Luxor is safe! Travel agencies would love you to believe that. So would the local merchants, and others benefiting from your travels to Egypt overall. Chances are you MIGHT actually go to Luxor or Cairo and have a wonderful time. The time of your life. BUT, let's not totally drop our guard and waltz into a shooting gallery. In addition to practiced security procedures, common sense has got to come into play as well.
Dec 22nd, 1997, 11:22 PM
Posts: n/a
Dear "Special Agent". Since there is no name on your
message, I shall address you as "Special Agent". In
regards to your response and another message that you
wrote regarding safety in Egypt, I would like to make a
few comments regarding your messages. First of all, I
don't consider myself an average tourist as I do not go
on tours but do all my traveling overseas independently.
I am not a travel agent and have no connections to the
travel industry. I do not benefit in anyway from promoting
Egypt. I consider myself to be fairly intelligent as I
have a PhD and I try to always use good judgment when
traveling. I can understand the importance of safety in
traveling internationally and would agree that Egypt and
the Middle East can be dangerous at times. However so can
Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. We had 23 people killed
in a cafeteria a couple of years ago. My point is that we
may not be "special agents" or specialize in security
however we have a right to state what we felt as far as
our perceptions of security. I don't mind you cautioning
people but when you imply that we had financial reasons
to state our opinions, that bothers me. Hope you enjoy
the holidays.
Dec 23rd, 1997, 07:10 AM
The name is Mr. Dylan Thomas, Ph.D
Posts: n/a
Dear sir,

I also have a Ph.D in fact, I have 2 for what that's worth. If you paid attention at all to my posting, you would have clearly seen that I stated people had a right to post whatever it is they wanted to post. I have no problem with that. However, I happen to know for a fact that at least 1 of those postings are directly linked to a travel agency that has strong emphasis on travel into Egypt. Since I was in law enforcement for 25 years before turning to the private sector, I can professionally tell you that there is not even a remote comparison between strret crime in Chicago, or LA and Cairo, Jordan, or Luxor. The risk of injury or death in the Middle East is sky high right now, and by all indiciations, will remain high well into 1998. I personally travel there at least once per month, sometimes more. If it were not for the nature of my employment I would not bother going there, and certainly would not get on the Internet and suggest to others that it's a safe place to take a trip. As for cautioning people, I'd rather make some effort at that, then wait to turn on CNN and see the body count. It's Christmas, but let's focus on reality for a change. People traveling into the Middle East are taking a substantial risk. That's a fact. Live with it.
Dec 23rd, 1997, 10:07 PM
Posts: n/a
Dear Mr. Thomas. For your information, Sue is a female
name. Happy New Year.
Dec 24th, 1997, 01:01 AM
Posts: n/a
Sue: glad to see that not only are you back home, but also alive and kicking (I was wondering at the time whether you would carry out your plans following the Luxor attack). Have a merry Christmas. P.S. Did the Avia live up to expectations? P.P.S. I have no Phd whatsoever.. ;-)
Dec 24th, 1997, 06:51 AM
Posts: n/a
These Egypt postings are comical. The only people that should be going to Egypt are those that have a terminal illness and are looking for a quick way out.
Dec 24th, 1997, 11:22 AM
Paula Smith
Posts: n/a
The reason that Egypt has been unspoiled for so many centuries is the fact that is a very inaccessible place to visit. Nothing has changed since the time of the Pharoahs - the Israelites did not leave Egypt because it was the fun spot of the Millde East!

History has a way of repeating itself regardless if we are watching or learning! Nothing that is going on now has not been repeated through the millenium.
And these events will be repeated into the future.

This is a fact of life. There is never going to be a safe time - the Middle East is a dangerous spot.

You should be aware of the dangers in the area and not increase your chances of becoming a victim by
not exercising due diligence.

Just stay in reputable hotels - no backpacking here!
Get cabs from hotel locations. Use COMMONSENSE.
Check with hotels about areas to stay clear of.

Right now there are so few tourists in Egypt it would take a determined expert marksman to hit any of them!

But seriously there are more security procedures
in place - nothing is going to stop a militant.
If you wait till Egypt becomes "safe", then you might as well wait until the Sphinx explains how the Pyramids were built!
Dec 24th, 1997, 12:00 PM
Howard Carter
Posts: n/a
The random acts against tourists are designed to cripple the government of Mubarak in Egypt. Egypt gets its income from 3 sources - the US goverment,
tourists, and remissions from overseas workers period.

Since the terrorists cannot target the US government - they will need them if they come to power, and get not intercept the remissions from overseas workers, the only major target is tourists.

Right now because of the attacks the flow of tourist dollars has slowed to a trickle - almost as bad as the Gulf War when there were no international flights into Cairo.

The effect is twofold - the middle class is feeling the pressure and is asking the government to halt this terrorism in some way. The trickle down effect is such that the lower classes always on the threshold are further downtrodden

This whole issue is not how many people are killed or not killed but about money - foreign money through tourist participation in Egypt. Once the middle class perceives that this money is not going to be forthcoming, they will put pressure on the government.

If Mubarak cannot or will not solve the militant problem, then the middle class will be forced to take sides in the battle and will choose the only logical side - the side that can restore the status quo and the tourist dollars.

Dec 28th, 1997, 07:36 PM
Posts: n/a
Dec 29th, 1997, 06:23 AM
Neal Sanders
Posts: n/a
I was awestruck to come back to this site after two weeks and to see the postings my original message had generated. One of the few failings of Fodors' message board is that it doesn't authenticate user IDs, so that "Dylan Thomas" and "Howard Carter" can flame, then disappear into the ether. For the record, I'm not part of the travel industry as suggested by "Doctor Thomas." Nor were my wife and I "stupid" to be traveling in Egypt. We used the twelve days between news of the murders at Luxor and our departure date to learn everything we could about what the Egyptian government was doing to ensure the safety of travelers, and our decision to proceed with our trip was made only after we had ascertained that we could do so in relative safety. It is easy to say we made the right decision because we returned safely, but I also wanted to share my observations with those who might be on the fence about making such a trip. The Egyptian government truly has determined to make its sites safe. Our tour operator (Destination Egypt, which represents Abercrombie & Kent and Overseas Adventure Travels) also bent over backwards to provide security, including an armed escort on our bus. The payoff, for those who chose to put fear aside, was to see Egypt as it has probably not been seen in half a century... antiquities sites that had no crowds, no jostling, no shouting to be heard over other groups. To replicate that experience would require going back to the days before mass tourism and the package tour. One observer above makes the very correct observation that Egypt is not the kind of place into which you take a backpack and a tent. This is a country that, in many ways, is desperately poor and is being rent by those who demand that secular governments give way to Islamic ones. But it is also one of the few places on the face of the earth where you can see the hand of man back to the dawn of civilization. Seeing -- and touching -- those antiquities fulfilled a long-time dream. I know it is a dream that other have, but who read of the massacre and so decided, "next year, or the year after, when things are back to normal." My purpose in posting my message was to offer a first-hand account of what I found, so that those who are on the fence about going can add my observations to their decision knowledge base.
Dec 29th, 1997, 07:11 AM
Dylan Thomas
Posts: n/a
Dear Mr. Sanders,

We're all so glad that your travel agency had the thought to place an armed gunman on board your tour bus. That was quick thinking! I can only imagine what would have happened had he been forced to use it! I'm quite certain he was well trained and certified too......

I wonder if anyone wants to hear about this elderly couple we received some calls from that sent us pictures of their rental car. Someone filled it with lead. About 50 rounds or so. I wonder why that never made it on CNN? Considering it just happened last week. I suppose that since their vehicle was empty when that took place it was not a news worthy event.

It's ok though Mr. Sanders, with over 25 years of experience I have no idea what I'm talking about, nor do any of our personnel some of which are former employees of the U.S. State Department.

Riding on a bus in Luxor or Cairo! Now that was a real smart move! I can just see us advising our clients that riding on a packed bus full of tourists would be a good, SAFE idea. What could possibly go wrong? Afterall, they have an armed gunman on board. Where do I sign up?
Dec 31st, 1997, 02:19 PM
Howard Carter
Posts: n/a
Since the attacks on tourists at the Egyptian Museum In Cairo in September and the recent attack in the Valley of the Queens in Luxor, there have been concerns raised about the safety factor now in Egypt.

On these reply pages there have been reports that tourists HAVE traveled to Egypt and RETURNED UNHARMED. However, there still remains this doubt that Egypt is not safe.

How many of us have witnessed a car accident or been involved in one ourselves? No one stopped driving because of this. Going to Egypt is not exactly the same but the chances of being involved in an accident or being killed are probably smaller than being killed or injured on the highway.

From Septemeber to now, tour groups and individuals have traveled and survived the dangers of Egypt. Of course, the danger there cannot be minimized but putting it into perspective is what is needed. Many more tourists have survived than have been killed.

Nothing is going to change the fact that the Middle East is, was, and will be dangerous. Just travel there with extreme caution, be alert, and use commonsense.

Jan 14th, 1998, 12:32 AM
Posts: n/a
Im goin to Cairo,the first of March.Cant wait to get there.Only have 3days,so I know I gotta move fast.Im more worried about the food,than the terrorist.You can be sitting in your car at a light,and have some punk stick a gun to your head,kill you, and steal your car in any town USA.Im gonna live life.
Jan 15th, 1998, 08:06 AM
Richard Graybill
Posts: n/a
Going to Caorpfor three days in May, any info will help, Thanks
Jan 24th, 1998, 03:45 PM
Gene Kasprzyk
Posts: n/a
Reality is you are more likely to be struck by lightning in your own backyard than you are to die by the hands of a terrorist in Egypt. It amazes me that we can live in one of the most violent societies on the planet and we will pontificate about safety in Egypt. There is risk in everything you do. Be an educated traveller, minimize your risks as you would at home, travel and enjoy. I feel safer in Egypt than I do in many of the areas in my own home town. I would sooner visit the Valley of the Kings than certain areas of the USA. And by the way, if "special agent" has several Phd.'s why is he not able to use the English language correctly?
Jan 26th, 1998, 06:26 PM
Posts: n/a
I too am headed to Egypt the first part of March and am excited about the prospect. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has been over there since the beginning of the year. From talking with our tourist agent, it sounds like the tourist trade is picking up again. Anyone with the latest info?
Jan 27th, 1998, 05:59 AM
Neal Sanders
Posts: n/a
Jan, I'm the author of the original message 'way up top. As I said in that message, Egypt was utterly devoid of tourists in early and mid-December, normally the busiest time of the year. When I say "devoid," I mean there was absolutely nobody else at the sites we visited. I've heard from our guide, who said tourism is only a shadow of what it was this time last year, so "picking up" must be relative. Remember, several European governments continue to have travel bans in place for Egypt, and countries such as the UK, Switzerland, Germany, etc. have traditionally constituted the vast majority of Egypt's tourists. My wife and I felt as though we were seeing the country as it has not been seen in half a century; and certainly since before the era of jet aircraft and the package tour. It will probably take two-plus years for the memory of Luxor to fade sufficiently for tourism to return to its pre-November 1997 level.
Feb 9th, 1998, 11:57 PM
Posts: n/a
Does any one have any info of the Mena House.I know its expensive,thats ok,but I dont want to be surrounded by a bunch of Old stuff shirts in tuxs.I know its nice,and I know the location,but is it fun?I.e. babes.

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