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Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ warnings arouse emotions

At the beginning of July, i.e. at the beginning of peak holiday season Polish Foreign Ministry mentioned a message resurgent trips to Egypt. The whole of Egypt. Previously, only warned against staying in some of its regions, recognizing tourist resorts as safe.

It was very angered the industry. It is not surprising. The message of such content means quite real and countable cash losses. Some customers certainly will not choose a holiday in the country which as the ministry says is a dangerous place. The more that in June a dramatic scene played out on the beach in Tunisia and images from which remain long in the memory. President of the Polish Chamber of Tourism (PIT) and also a member of the Supervisory Board of Rainbow Tours (second largest tour operator in Poland), Pawel Niewiadomski handed counter-message prepared by his organization. It condemns the attitude of the Foreign Ministry that the decision of  sending warnings takes with astonishing ease, regardless of the consequences of their own actions and often unnecessarily scaring people.

NMinistry of Foreign Affairs travel warningsiewiadomski notes that the Foreign Ministry press releases often are not updated and the content is left untouched for years. On the other hand the ministry is unable to predict actual events that may constitute a danger for Polish tourists. For example, in August there was a coup in Thailand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by not posting any warning against trips to the Thailand  sent a signal that the country should be considered as safe. Besides, there has been a state marshal in Thailand and it has been ruled by the military for a whole year and only for that reason it should be advised to keep caution. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not able to predict sites where some other tragedies may happen and its decisions on warnings are taken according to criteria based on analysis of the situation from the past.

For travel companies but also for many tourists the "closure" of Egypt was especially painful. It is one of the most popular travel destinations for Polish tourists (beach, sun, warmth and low prices). In addition it is available all year round not just during the summer months. It is difficult to replace (taking into account the climatic conditions, the standard of services and prices) Egypt  by other country. Egypt has benefited the problems of Greece but in general it is difficult to compare the two countries. Everything is in them different.

Egyptian authorities also expressed their disappointment at the position of the Polish Foreign Ministry. Egypt's ambassador in Poland stressed the importance of Polish market for Egyptian tourism recalling that his government is taking various steps to minimize risks. In an interview for “Rzeczpospolita” (Polish daily for better educated people…) he said that nothing bad had happened in Egyptian resorts since 20 years and it is still safety there.

He was a little mistaken:

  • in 2004 Hilton hotel located in the Sinai resort of Taba blew up, 34 people killed,
  • in 2005, the Hotel Ghazala Gardens in Sharm El Sheikh, a bomb exploded, 70 people killed,
  • in 2014, as a result of a terrorist attack in Taba 4 people killed.

All this happened not 20 years ago. It is a pity that the interviewer journalist had forgotten (because it is impossible to imagine that she did not know ...).

This does not change the fact that the system of sending warning messages by the MFA is far from perfect. One gets the impression that there is a simple rule: just in case you need to protect yourself because the devil never sleeps... The position of Polish Ministry on Egypt is one of the strictest. Other countries are not so very clear in dissuasion of trips to Egypt. Travel Agents have a  legitimate  concern that if they cease to pressure on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the message in its original version will be hung for years to come. Until finally someone someday will remind it…


September 12, 2015