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.