Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Egypt To Introduce Electronic Visa System Within Months, Requiring Visitors To Obtain Visas Before Arrival

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Egypt will install an electronic visa system in six to eight months and individual tourists will only have to take three steps to obtain a visa, the tourism minister said on Monday.

Minister Rami Khaled was cited by state news agency MENA as saying that the government’s decision to cancel on-arrival visas for individual tourists is related to installing the new system, during a meeting with members of the association of tourist writers.

The cancellation of on-arrival visas was due to be implemented starting May 15 but the government postponed the cancellation in a decision on Thursday until it activates a system for electronically obtaining visas.

Rami said last week that the cancellation of on-arrival visas aims to organise the entry of foreigners into Egypt in the framework of “respecting national sovereignty” and “considering the state’s national security” in a manner that would “not affect the flow of tourism.”

Rami said tourists who arrive in groups will still be issued on-arrival visas.

The decision to cancel on-arrival visas was met with wide criticism from travel agencies, which warned that it could negatively affect the flow of tourism into the country.

Tourism was a main source of income in Egypt until a popular uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011 triggered four years of political turmoil, taking its toll on the sector.

Tourism revenues jumped to almost $4 billion from $1.9 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year 2014/2015, the central bank announced on March 19.