The U.S. State Department has lifted a travel alert for Egypt that had been in place since March 29.
The travel alert had warned U.S. citizens traveling to Egypt of the possibility of political unrest in the run-up to Egypt’s presidential elections in May and June.
The travel alert was scheduled to expire on June 30 and superseded an earlier alert issued on Nov. 7, 2011. However, Egypt was only removed from the State Department’s travel alert list this week, according to the Egyptian Tourist Authority, which monitors Egypt’s status on the list.
Travel alerts are issued for short-term situations in countries that pose “significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens,” according to the State Department.
Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences are examples of conditions that might generate a travel alert.
The State Department has issued several travel alerts and travel warnings for Egypt folloing the revolution in January 2011, which resulted in the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
The first alert was issued on Jan. 28, 2011. Two days later, the State Department changed the alert to a travel warning, which tends to be a longer-standing caution against travel to a country.
While the State Department currently does not advise against any travel to Egypt, it does report updates on the political and security situation on its Egypt travel page.
The State Department noted, “Reports indicate that the security situation in the northern Sinai area, which is generally defined as the area north of the Cairo-Nekhl-Taba road, remains difficult due to the continuing potential for violence.”
In addition to a terrorist attack earlier this month that took place in the northern Sinai Peninsula on the Egyptian border with Israel in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, the State Department noted that kidnappings of foreign tourists in the Sinai have increased since January.
“So far, it’s an isolated incident,” said Mohamed Hegazy, the Egypt Tourist Authority’s tourism attache for the U.S. and Latin America. “It happened in north Sinai, which is very far away from south Sinai, where the tourists go.”
Hegazy is confident that the lifting of the travel alert will send a renewed message to travel sellers and their clients that Egypt is open for business.
Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.