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Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 26 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information, and from what sources, his Department has evaluated on the security of visitors to Egypt; and what guidance his Department has issued to tour operators. [17826]

We gather information from a wide range of reliable sources. We are in close contact with our Embassy in Cairo who, in turn, are in contact with the Egyptian government.Information from these sources has been distilled into the travel advice notice issued on 18 November as follows:

"In a major incident near Luxor on 17 November gunmen killed more than sixty tourists, including at least six British visitors. Since 1992 extremists have conducted a campaign of violence against the Egyptian Government, mainly in the provinces of Minya and Assiut (half way between Cairo and Luxor) but with sporadic attacks in other areas. Most of these incidents have been directed at the police, or were sectarian in nature.
Extremists have warned tourists not to visit Egypt. In April 1996 gunmen killed 18 Greek tourists in Cairo. On 18 September two men, acting alone, killed 10 people, mainly German tourists, also in Cairo.
The Luxor attack suggests that the threat to tourists visiting Upper Egypt has increased. British visitors are advised to exercise great caution when visiting Upper Egypt (defined as the area of the Nile valley south of and including Minya province). They are strongly advised to avoid the Luxor area until further notice.
Visitors to all other parts of Egypt, including Cairo, the Red Sea and Sinai, are advised to be vigilant and to respect any advice from the local security authorities.
Local driving conditions and poor vehicle maintenance make road travel outside the main cities hazardous, especially at night. In the event of an accident emergency medical facilities are limited.
Travel advice is widely available to the travel trade and tour operators. We would be prepared to offer further advice to tour operators if asked. None have approached us following the events in Egypt on 17 November.