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Israel-Hamas war: Should you make travel plans to Jordan, Egypt this winter? Expert says ‘risk level depends on…’

After violence erupted in the region on the first week of October, the US State Department immediately issued an alert urging citizens in specific Middle Eastern countries to exercise caution. A few days later came a worldwide travel advisory that further expanded the guidelines.

The advisory cautioned people to remain vigilant, adhere to local government advice, and avoid of areas near demonstrations. 

As expected, different travelers responded differently! Some opted to postpone plans till next year or till the situation stabilizes, while others persist with their arrangements. Under the current circumstances, what should be the best plan of action?

Israel-Hamas conflict impacts international air travel revival

The recent conflict has not only impacted travel plans in the Middle East but also caused a massive global aviation slowdown, according to travel data analytics company ForwardKeys, reported by Scheneganvisainfo.com. 

ForwardKeys data cited, that since last month, flight bookings globally witnessed a 5-percentage-point decrease compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

While Africa is steadily recovering, other regions experienced a slowdown, with the Americas down by 6 p.p., Europe by 3 p.p., Asia Pacific by 1 p.p., and the Middle East by a significant 26 p.p. 

Israel, within the Middle East, bore the brunt, facing a staggering 155 p.p. decline in flight bookings since the conflict erupted, the report said. 

Should you travel to Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon now?

Jordan: The U.S. State Department has maintained Jordan at “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” since July 13. This means, people should avoid traveling near Syrian and Iraqi borders, refugee camps, and areas that have safety concerns. 

Despite ongoing tours to popular destinations like Petra and Wadi Rum, there’s been a significant decline in hotel reservations, with a 50% cancellation rate in October and 60% for November. However, travel providers like Red Savannah, El Camino Travel, and Intrepid Travel continue operations, a Conde Nast report said. 

Egypt: The State Department’s alert level, unchanged since July 13, stands at “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” 

Tourists should continue to avoid travel to the Sinai Peninsula, the land bordering Israel and Gaza and to the east of Cairo, as it is a “particularly dangerous area” according to the department.

Lebanon: Travel warning to Lebanon was raised to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” last month. 

Citing the unpredictable security situation, particularly regarding rocket exchanges, the advisory authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. Embassy Beirut family members. 

The State Department advisory said that it has “authorized the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of U.S. government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from US Embassy Beirut due to the unpredictable security situation.”

As the violence has continued, the State Department’s travel warnings have become more stringent for the country. “The State Department recommends that US citizens in Lebanon leave now, while commercial flights remain available, due to the unpredictable security situation,” says a security alert from the US Embassy in Beirut issued on November 4.

What do experts say?

Experts are of the view that it is better to postpone the trip or rebook to another region than canceling altogether.

 Matt Berna, president, of The Americas, for Intrepid Travel told Conde Nast, “More than ever the world needs intrepid travelers. We want travelers to do and see incredible things, and for those experiences to have positive social and economic impacts and the host communities they visit.”

“First, it’s important to understand that every person has their own level of risk tolerance—the level of risk that they are willing to take for the activity they want to pursue,” Dave Dennis, a risk management consultant who works with El Camino. “What’s reasonable for one person might not be the same for another.”



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Updated: 17 Nov 2023, 05:16 PM IST

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