Is it safe to travel to Egypt and Jordan? US tourism leaders to investigate

Want to score a deep discount on papyrus scrolls, stroll into the Egyptian Museum without waiting on line, and snap photos of the great pyramids without another traveler in sight?

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, this is a great time to visit Egypt. Tourism is down 80% compared to last year, according to the Washington Post. Lingering safety concerns have kept travelers away since the February revolution, which resulted in the ouster of President Mubarak.

“I have the feeling that many people outside of Egypt are very confused at the moment. The whole Middle East is going through different kinds of revolutions or unrest, and especially after Libya’s events it’s easy to think that the whole area could be dangerous,” noted Giulia Cimarosti, a travel blogger and Italian expat living in Egypt.

Cimarosti has started a social media campaign called “Back2Egypt” to promote Egyptian tourism. She’s lived in Egypt for nine months and resides near Tahrir Square, the center of the political protests.

“I feel a hundred percent safe. After the revolution I spent some time at home (in Italy) and seen from outside the situation looked much more chaotic than it is in reality,” she said in an email.

>> UPDATE 1/22/12: Read our latest Egypt Q+A with travel expert Giulia Cimarosti and follow the US State Department website for recent developments

The Giza Pyramids 3

The Giza Pyramids in Egypt. (photo: Tommy Wong/flickr)

Neighboring countries are also affected by the perception that Egypt is unsafe.

“We cannot paint the region with one stroke of a brush,” said Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board, in an email. “We suffer from misperceptions and need both the media and the industry to help alleviate this.”

Roughly 1 in 10 Jordanians work in the travel industry and tourism accounts for 12-14% of the country’s GDP, according to Asfour. “U.S. travelers are vital to our economy, and the decline in tourism is hurting our people,” she noted.

In an effort to boost tourism and assuage safety concerns, the tourism ministries of Jordan and Egypt have invited the presidents of leading U.S. travel associations on a six-day tour of the region.

Map showing Egypt and Jordan. (Google Maps)

U.S. tourism delegates to visit Jordan, Egypt

The “Restoring the Journey” trip is both a fact-finding mission and way for the U.S. travel industry to show its support for Middle East tourism.

In addition to visiting iconic destinations like the Giza pyramids, the U.S. delegation will meet with tourism ministers and local press.

Participants include the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA), the National Tour Association (NTA), the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).

“Together with our partners, the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Jordan Tourism Board and USTOA, we determined the best way to show that the tourism industry cares is to go there,” said NTA president Lisa Simon in a release. “We want to see the destinations for ourselves, meet with Egyptian and Jordanian tourism officials, and then share our story when we return.”

The U.S. delegation will leave New York on Friday and will make stops in Cairo, Amman and Petra.

>> UPDATE 5/30/11: I attended the “Restoring the Journey” trip; click here for my articles on travel safety in Egypt and Jordan. Follow @downtowntravel and @leslietravel on Twitter for additional coverage.


The treasury at Petra

The treasury at Petra. (Photo courtesy of Visit Jordan)


Adventure travelers leading the way

Despite the region’s political unrest, Jordan has become a hotspot for travel bloggers. Writers and photographers like Ken Kaminesky (@KenKaminesky), Michael Hodson (@mobilelawyer), Dave and Deb (@theplanetd) and Sherry Ott (@ottsworld) have recently visited or are currently traveling in Jordan.

This trend may be driven by the Jordan Tourism Board, which has embraced social media. The board is active on Twitter (@VisitJordan) and has sponsored blogger trips; Queen Rania even held a Twitter contest for video bloggers last year.

Additionally, the lack of crowds may be a draw for bloggers and other adventure travelers.

“Clearly the adventure traveler is [the] front line for the travel industry and they are quick to be the first back when a destination has suffered difficulties,” noted Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) president Shannon Stowell. “We look forward to helping tell the story and inform our network of member operators as to the realities on the ground.”


Would you visit Egypt and Jordan right now?

Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.

Follow Downtown Traveler on Twitter and Facebook for continued coverage of the “Restoring the Journey” trip.

About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.


  1. nmg

    Great article Leslie! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip. I’d love to go too!!

  2. Juno

    Even though Egypt is a high on my list, I didn’t know much about it until I engaged to travel blogging and social networking.
    I got to know what it really is like from Giulia as well, she shared a lot of real storied. it is not just ‘pyramid’ and ‘desert’ anymore.
    Jordan is now uprising travel destination, as I see.
    It’s possible that its not safe to travel to middle east, but if you think about it, where isn’t? Of course there’s some obvious threats but it’s not to travelers, mostly.
    I’m really excited for your trip Leslie. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

  3. Thanks for sharing this information. I know many people who are skeptical about visiting, but may feel comforted after reading this article having been assured that these countries are working diligently to keep travel safe for tourists . Hope I can get there soon!

  4. Sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve been wanting to visit the Middle East for a long time now, especially Egypt and Jordan, so I can’t wait to see how it goes. Enjoy the trip and I look forward to reading the dispatches.

  5. Hi Les! I think despite the region’s political unrest, I would still want to visit both places. Life is full of risks. Heck you could cross the road and be run over.. choke on a bottle of mineral water.. So long as the country’s tourism board says, it’s OK, it’s OK by me!

  6. like my wife (ciki), I would jump at the change to go to go to Jordan. Perfect for the adventure man in me! Tourism Jordan should consider sending us too! LOL!

    • joseph

      Hello – I’m Joseph from Jordan – Jordan said most of the areas is now safe and there are many places to visit and if you want adventure you can be what you want

  7. Right before the riots in Egypt, my wife’s aunt and uncle took a tour there. They shared a story from their tour guide about the drama for other people caught in the riots and what it took to get them out of there. Egypt and Jordan have a lot to offer and are worth visiting. However, the Middle East is an area where people have to evaluate their risk in visiting – much like people do today with the threat of terrorism. Sometimes, the government and media do more harm than good by scaring people. However, Egypt and Jordan are definitely places that fascinate me.

  8. Well done to you Leslie for taking this opportunity.

    Media likes bad news, and bad news travels fast. Especially whenever there is a mention of Islam, or the mid east. Least we forget oil and energy. It’s good to see tourism boards step up to the plate with social media.

    I’ve not seen anything great, nor original come out of this region for a while now. Personally, I think this is a prime opportunity, so I look forward to your updates from there!

    And, enjoy some couscous! 🙂

  9. Awesome, I look forward to your reports.

  10. thanks for the shout out — I am still here (Dahab, Egypt) for another month or so…. so anyone that shows up and mentions they read it here… a couple beers on my tab 😉

  11. I really hope you will enjoy this trip, and I can’t wait to hear about it! Egypt is such an amazing country 🙂

    Too bad I won’t be in Cairo when you arrive – am heading to Sinai tomorrow morning – but please if you need anything just ask 🙂 I will probably be chilling out on the beach with @mobilelawyer when you call. Cool!

    Thanks for mentioning me and the #back2egypt project.
    Take care and enjoy this trip to the max!

    • Me

      if you are talking about egypt so you are talking about 3 types of different culture and three different eras and every one of the three left their own remains ,first is the Pheroanic era ,second is the christian era and last one is the Islamic era which left the oldest Masqeds in world , when i look to pyramids from far away at so dark night i say this country has real interesting past while another countries their own history had been summarized in 3 or 4 persons like America with my respect to America but their history can be summarized in two or three persons history but Egypt is the first civilization in world , pyramids capture my heart and my mind i look for them and cant move my eyes away for at least 20 min i say inside my mind is it really stand like that from between 3000 to 5000 years ago how were people in that era???? egypt is a country has a past and has a nice present with amazing revolution did not over yet and has a nice future as i hope its really some interesting place .

  12. Thomas M.

    Really great story, I’m jealous of your trip. I went to Egypt on a trip shortly after 9/11 when everyone was afraid to travel anywhere and had a great time and no troubles at all. So many people here tend to be afraid to go anywhere, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  13. I would really like to visit the region someday. It is too bad that people can’t get an honest report on the safety of traveling. The media is completely run amok, in my opinion. The blogs I read tell a very different story so it is really about how risk averse travelers are.

    Looking forward to reading more about your trip!

  14. Wow, what an adventure you are going to have. I think it would be great to go and explore all of the great sites…especially Petra…long on my bucket list since the Indiana Jones movies!!

    I really look forward to hearing about and seeing your adventures as they unfold while you are there. Please send lots of pics!!!

    Happy travels my friend!!

    • Jeff, when I first saw a photo of Petra I immediately thought of Indiana Jones! Those movies made quite an impression on me as a kid. I’ll be posting photos and updates throughout the trip. Stay tuned!

  15. Unfortunately, a few people got really deep discounts at the museum during the brief revolution. I’d love to see the Pyramids. What a great opportunity for you. Travel safely!

  16. I’ve wandered too if the violence is more media hyped or actually very dangerous. Very interesting!

  17. I’ve learned over the years that the media tends to way overhype situations and that even government travel warnings should be taken with a grain of salt. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  18. Ayman rashdan

    For month now, me and the H.O.G’s (Harley Owners Group) have been riding throughout Jordan (over 3100 KM) through cities, villages, main roads, side roads, passways through farms.
    We have not faced one single security or otherwise problem, people were waving at us wherever we went, and helping whenever needed, even the police were so friendly and went out of their way to guide us.

    The country is so beautiful, and people are just great.

    Totally safe and recommended for all, specially for bikers.

  19. Great article! I’ve wondered how hyped are the media reports about the situation over there. Turns out that most of the time the portray an exaggerated perspective. This looks like an amazing trip, look forward to read more. Egypt and Jordan are two destinations that are way on top of my list… so, I’m more than willing to go there. 🙂

  20. Jon

    Should be a great trip. Thanks for working to show Egypt and Jordan are still safe. I actually just took a 2 day, border to border hitchhike across Jordan for the same reason. Not only did we find that it’s safe, we made some actual friends in the process. It’s an amazing country with remarkable people. Enjoy!

  21. Maria A

    What a great opportunity for you personally and professionally – I hope this trip does help the tourism industry in the Middle East!

  22. I’m planning to visit Egypt next month and showing friends this post will help alleviate some of their worries. Thank you!

  23. Stephanie

    I was in Egypt at the end of March and am heading back tomorrow. I will then be heading to Jordan. My friend and I stayed in Tahrir and took pics of the demonstrations last time we were there. Ppl were so happy and welcoming! We went back to our hostel early, but never felt any danger.

  24. I have always dreamed of visiting Egypt and the pyramids. And from the statistic you have given I think this is the best time for me too.

  25. emad

    Egypt is so Safe and anybody is coming Egypt i can show him around Cairo mail me on

  26. Sunny in NY

    We were in Cairo last year, and it was fascinating. Jordan is next on our list. Thanks, Leslie, for your great descriptions.

  27. Alexandra Paoli

    My family were supposed to visit Egypt this summer but we were told it would be dangerous due to what happened secently. Its been my lifelong dream to go to Egypt and i really wanted to go. Im happy to know that is isnt as unsafe as we thought it was, hopefully we will be able to go this summer. 🙂

    • Go for it! I did not feel unsafe during my visit. If you do go, I would love to see the photos of your trip. Keep me posted 🙂

  28. mckinsey

    I have been to Cairo many times. I visited Jordan last year and went to Petra. I went scuba diving in the red sea, which was amazing!! i love Egyptian food!!! Koshari is the best!! Every time i go i stay at Citi star intercontinental.. its an amazing hotel! i have never felt unsafe with my travels to Egypt. I really encourage people to go and see the culture. McKinsey Gonder

  29. Jon

    Supposed to be going to Egypt in 2 weeks. Is it safe at the moment with the current protests going on?

    • I visited in April, so I can’t vouch for the safety in October. I’d check out the State Department website, news articles and blogs for a better sense of the current situation.

  30. Floriaan N

    just got back from a 10 day trip to Egypt (12/30 to 01/08): 2 days cairo, 8 days cruise from Luxor – aswan- luxor. And we have to say that at no moment we felt unsafe.

    We even went on the tahrirsquare (and if you scared from a roundabout with some tents on: stay away).
    if you don’t like to be almost alone in temples, and if you like to wait sometimes one hour to see some beautiful room in a temple: stay away…

    else: don’t hesitate and book immediate your trip! I was also al little worried before about the all the pictures in the news.
    but made a final decision after reading many posts on the internet. And i have to say: if you don’t go on friday nights to the tahrirsquare and throw some rocks at the army, you ‘ll be safe ;-).
    As said before, we went there in the afternoon, when visiting the egyptian museum, and there was nothing dangerous at all.

    I can’t repeat enough to people that now is the moment to go to egypt. Traveling without the thousands of other tourists around you is just so much better.

    Floriaan N.

    • Floriaan, thank you for sharing your recent experience in Egypt! I’m glad you had a wonderful time. It’s so helpful to hear from someone who has just been to Cairo.

  31. This is a great post. While I would not consider the boats on the Nile to be “luxury”, they are quite nice. We did a Nile River cruise in July to the sites you mentioned. Yes, it was hot, but not terrible. I would agree with everything you wrote. And Kom Ombo was our favorite on the Nile (although Abu Simbel on Lake Naser was our favorite overall).

  32. Daniya

    I am a Jordanian girl and yes our country is perfectly safe comparing it to other’s

    everyone is welcome to visit Jordan at any time and if u have any related question please feel free to contact me over this email:

    Cheers <3

    • Thanks Daniya! Appreciate your offer to answer reader questions on Jordan. It’s a beautiful country.

  33. Great post! I’ll definitely be following your blog!

    In 2 months my girlfriend and I are leaving on a open ended trip around the world. Both Egypt and Jordan are on our must see lists, especially since it is so affordable to visit right now! The fact that there are currently 80% fewer tourists certainly helps the decision that now is the best time to go. The Indiana Jones inside of me has always felt incredibly drawn to historical sights like the Pyramids of Giza and the City of Petra, but I’ve always felt before that going would be a headache with the high numbers of tourists. While I hope to be a part of the rebuilding of their tourism industry, I’m certainly glad to be able to fully enjoy my upcoming visits to both countries!

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