Is it safe to travel to Egypt?No refunds for tourists who cancel Egypt holidays

01 July 2013


UPDATE (15 AUGUST 2013): 

The following news story was written on 01 July 2013. Since then, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has changed its advice. Britons are advised to avoid all but essential travel to the majority of Egypt except for resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai such as Sharm el Sheikh, and resorts on the Egyptian mainland in the Red Sea governorate, such as Hurghada. Local authorities in Sharm el Sheikh have temporarily stopped tourist excursions, while in Hurghada, police have advised tourists to remain within hotel grounds.

Violent demonstrations have broken out again in Egypt and the US government has warned against non-essential travel to the country, but British travellers are unlikely to receive a refund if they cancel their holiday as a result of the unrest.

Millions of Egyptians have been taking part in protests marking the first anniversary of President Mohamed Mursi’s inauguration and the BBC reports that eight people have been killed since Sunday. The US has told tourists to defer non-essential travel due to the continuing possibility of unrest.

Outbreaks of violence have been reported across Egypt but the biggest demonstrations have taken place in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not issued any warning about visiting popular holiday destinations.

The FCO currently advises British nationals to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, and also advises against all but essential travel to the Governorate of South Sinai. However, it specifically excludes the Red Sea Resorts from its warning. Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab are all deemed to be safe to visit.

Find out your rights for cancelling a holiday due to unrest.

Package holidays to Egypt

Because the FCO has not warned against non-essential travel, tourists who have already booked a trip to Egypt, and now want to cancel their holiday due to the civil unrest, will be unlikely to get a refund. If you have booked a package, travel companies are under no obligation to find you an alternative holiday or give a refund in this case.

If you have bought a package holiday to Egypt, and the situation becomes so bad that the tour operator can no longer guarantee you a safe, secure and enjoyable holiday, then it may have to find you a suitable equivalent holiday or give a full refund, depending on the circumstances. If this happens while you are in the destination, the tour operator would have a responsibility to get you home.

Travel insurance and cancellations

People who have already booked flights and accommodation separately are more likely to lose out if the FCO later advises against travel to the destination. Scheduled airlines may still operate flights and refuse refunds for cancellations, and hotels that remain open may not issue a refund if you cancel.

It is worth considering a travel insurance policy that provides cover for riots or other outbreaks of civil unrest. This is not standard in most policies, but you can see which companies do offer this in our comparison of unexpected events cover.

If the FCO has not advised against all essential travel to the area, insurance companies are unlikely to pay out if you decide to cancel or curtail your trip because of safety fears due to civil unrest.

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