Egypt reintroduced to US state department travel warning list

Ahram Online , Saturday 24 Dec 2016

The US state department briefly removed Egypt from its travel warning list in late November

Giza pyramids (Reuters)

The United States' State Department reintroduced on Friday Egypt to its travel warning list after breifly removing it in November.

The new travel warning cited a number of terror attacks that include the bombing of a church which killed 27.

According to the travel warning, US diplomatic personnel are prohibited from travelling to the Western Desert and the Sinai Peninsula, outside the beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The travel warning maintained that the "Egyptian Government maintains a heavy security presence at major tourist sites, such as Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, and other beach resorts on the Red Sea and on the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, and at many of the temples and archaeological sites located in and around greater Cairo and in the Nile Valley, such as Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel."

The US allows its diplomatic personnel to travel to these areas, however, it stated that "terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country."

The travel warning cited some of the recent terrorist attacks in the country, including the 11 December bombing of the Cairo's St. Peter and St. Paul's Church. The authorities said a suicide bomber detonated himself inside the church and the Islamic State group claimed responsibility to he attack.

It also cited a 9 December improvised bomb attack on a police checkpoint in Giza, which killed six police personnel.

Egypt's tourism industry, a cornerstone of the country's now-ailing economy and a major source of hard currency, which is now in shortage, has been struggling to rebound since the 2011 uprising ushered in years of political and security unrest.

The government has repeatedly argued that reviving the tourism sector and attracting foreign investments through recent economic reforms, including free floating the Egyptian pound against the dollar, would solve Egypt's economic crisis.

Tourism in Egypt has been further struggling since Russia, along with a number of countries including the UK, suspended in late 2015 passenger flights to the popular Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in South Sinai due to security concerns following the deadly crash of a Russian jet over the peninsula on 31 October of that year.

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