Which North African destinations are the safest for tourists?
It is easy to forget that North Africa is part of the Middle East, but the horrific attacks on tourists in Tunisia last week is a stark reminder that North Africa is a region under great conflict.
The three popular tourist destinations, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, are bordered by Algeria, Libya, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, all of which come with some travel warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Morocco is still the safest of the North African countries. Although bordered by Algeria, the terrorism section is mostly to the south and east of Algeria, away from the Moroccan border. However, although Morocco is the safest country, there is still a threat of terrorist attacks. In April 2011, 17 people were killed in an attack in Marrakech, and the FCO state that there is a threat and “attacks are possible, and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners”.
On June 29, the Egyptian Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in an attack in Heliopolis, Cairo. This was a targeted attack on an official, not an attack on tourists.
The main tourist areas of Egypt are relatively safe at present. The areas along the Nile and around Cairo are given a green light by the FCO. The north-eastern area, which is bordered with Israel, is strictly off limits, and most of the eastern and southern parts of Egypt should be avoided. See the FCO page for the latest advice.
Algeria has never been a popular tourist destination, but in the past, tours to Tunisia and Morocco would pass within eyesight of the Algerian border.
The FCO currently advises against all travel within 450km (280 miles) of the Mali and Niger borders to the south, as well as no travel to the border region with Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia. It seems that Algeria’s borders are currently home to terror networks and travel is strongly discouraged.
Tunisia is currently a no-go zone. The recent beach attacks were originally thought to have originated from Saudi Arabia, but the latest reports suggest that the terrorists came from neighbouring Libya. The western border with Algeria and the south-eastern border with Libya both pose serious risk from ISIL related attacks and the threat is likely to grow before it lessens.
The FCO advises against all travel along the Tunisian borders with Libya and Algeria. They also advise against all but essential travel in most of southern and western Tunisia. The tourist destinations of Douz, Tataouine and Medenine are all now danger zones. See the latest reports on the FCO page for Tunisia.
Travel with caution
Morocco continues to be the safest destination in North Africa. Geographically, it is furthest from the major problem areas of Libya, Mali, Niger and Sudan. However, caution should always be taken because there are terrorist elements operating within the neighbouring Algeria.
The speed at which ISIL has spread in the past year is a great cause for concern. One consideration you must make: if you travel against the advice of the FCO, your travel insurance may not provide cover.
Before travelling to any destination, you should check with your insurer that you will be covered. This is especially important if you are planning a tour of several countries, because your Worldwide travel insurance policy may not cover you in all destinations. If in doubt, speak to an Avanti Travelcare consultant before making your travel arrangements.
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