Russian Airplane Crash: Should You Travel to Egypt? Is it Safe?
“E gypt is secure, stable and safe and welcomes your people,” Abdel Fattah Sisi — the president of Egypt — said during his visit to Sharm el-Sheikh, according to this article written by Ahmed Aboulenein for Reuters. “They will come to Egypt peacefully and leave peacefully and we will do all we can to protect and look after them.”
The visit by Sisi comes eleven days after the crash of an Airbus A321-200 airplane which operated as Metrojet flight 9268 from Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to Saint Petersburg in Russia on Saturday, October 31, 2015 where all 224 people — comprised of 217 passengers and seven members of the flight crew — aboard the aircraft were killed. The cause of the incident is still unknown at this time; and an investigation by the Accident Investigation Commission of Egypt is currently underway — including reports that a “noise” was heard in the final second of the flight data recording.
Airplanes operated by Lufthansa and Air France are reportedly avoiding flying over the Sinai peninsula of Egypt until the cause of the crash has been determined and confirmed; flights to and from Russia were suspended; and flights between the United Kingdom and the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh had been temporarily suspended on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, according to this official press release from the government of the United Kingdom. Flights had since resumed two days later — but not without a warning of a high threat of terrorism.
Revenue from tourism is a vital source of foreign currency in Egypt; and that industry has suffered significantly as a result of years of political instability following the 2011 uprising which overthrew Hosni Mubarak. I offered six reasons why you should visit Egypt now — and my opinion has not changed since I first posted that article despite the recent tragedy, which occurred at the start of the peak season for holiday travel to resorts along the Red Sea.
A surfeit of rhetoric, hysteria, speculation and supposition have flooded the media in attempts to assume an explanation of the cause of the crash of a Russian airplane which killed. All of this attention has people asking questions — and even resulting in lame articles such as this one — of whether or not it is safe to fly. I will address this topic once again in a future article — but in the meantime…
Should you travel to Egypt? Is it safe?
I was in Egypt earlier this year; and I never felt like I was in danger — except, that is, when I was driving a rental car around Cairo and to and from Luxor and Hurghada. I certainly did not feel like I was in danger when I was unexpectedly trapped in the toilet of my hotel room.
I would have visited Sharm el-Sheikh myself if it was not on the opposite side of the Gulf of Suez. The problem is that — at approximately eight hours and 30 minutes to drive a distance of approximately 765 kilometers, or approximately 475 miles — getting there from Hurghada would have consumed an entire day if I drove using the car which I rented. Furthermore, the drive between Cairo and Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh is approximately five hours. Airfares were more expensive when I was in Egypt than they are now: you can secure return flights for as little as $99.00.
During my visit to Egypt, I noticed that most of the other visitors were not American no matter where I went. In Hurghada, for example, many of them were from Russia or Germany, usually on tours. In fact, many advertisements and store banners were in Russian in Hurghada. Because the airplane which crashed was operated by an airline based in Russia, I expect Russians to be hesitant to visit resort towns along the Red Sea such as Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, which depend on their tourism and could be significantly be hurt financially as a result.
I would like to someday visit Sharm el-Sheikh; although having already visited Hurghada, it is not high on my list. If you asked me whether or not I would visit Sharm el-Sheikh now, my answer to you is “without hesitation.”
Alexander Bachuwa of The Points of Life recently visited Sharm el-Sheikh despite wondering if it was irresponsible to travel there due to the possibility and speculation that the crash was caused by a bomb as part of an attack by terrorists. I do not believe that it was irresponsible to travel there — just as I did not believe it was irresponsible to travel in the United States after the terror attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. We need to show terrorists that their motives will fail; and we need to deal with them swiftly while giving them as little attention — which they crave, similar to the idiot who runs naked on the field of a crowded stadium during a sporting event for publicity — as possible. I would think differently about traveling to places such as Somalia or Syria at this time, where the risk of an incident occurring while visiting is significantly greater than in Egypt — but even those options are not out of the question for me, depending on the circumstances.
In fact, the media continually has a propensity to evoke fear and hatred based on pure speculation and rhetoric. Consider this article written by Maram Mazen of the Associated Press, which reports on how newspapers in Egypt are proclaiming that Egypt is facing a conspiracy from western countries — such as the United States and the United Kingdom who seek to “scare off tourists and destroy the country’s economy” through their intelligence reports — out of fury that those countries are speculating that terrorism is responsible for the crash of the airplane.
Give me a freakin’ break. Is what the newspapers in Egypt are supposedly reporting really necessary and productive?!?
The fear-mongering of media around the world tends to blow things out of proportion. The crash of that Russian airplane is indeed a tragedy — traumatic to those people who are relatives, friends or colleagues of the passengers and members of the flight crew who did not survive. My thoughts and prayers are with them…
…and although I do not have the numbers in front of me, I am confident that 224 people is a mere fraction of a percent of the people who visit Sharm el-Sheikh every year. There are countless things which we encounter in our daily routines about which we do not think that present more of a danger than being involved in an airplane crash or terrorist attack — such as simply driving a car, for example.
If you have wanted to visit Egypt, now is the time to do so for the six reasons I impart here. The biggest issue you may experience will most likely be dealing with the touts — who are also hurting financially and will tend to be more aggressive as a result — when you visit such legendary monuments as the Great Sphinx of Giza. Do also visit the resort towns of the Red Sea — including Hurghada, which I visited; and also Sharm el-Sheikh. If nothing else, Egypt offers a great value for your travel dollar or whatever other currency you use — something which Egypt really needs right now.
As you should anywhere you are — even in your neighborhood — stay alert and aware of your surroundings, and you should be fine.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.