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Tour groups not affected by new Egyptian visa restrictions: FM

New visa procedures will not apply to tourists visiting in groups, confirms a foreign ministry spokesperson

Marina Barsoum , Wednesday 18 Mar 2015
Egypt
Tourists wait for their flight, as an Egyptair plane is seen, background, at a waiting hall in Cairo's international airport, in Egypt. (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's foreign ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel-Ati stressed on Wednesday that the new modification concerning visas will not affect foreigners currently living in Egypt nor organised tourist groups.  

"Individual foreigners wishing to visit Egypt either for work or for tourism purposes will be the ones who will need to obtain a prior visa from their Egyptian consulates," Abdel Ati told Ahram Online.

Meanwhile, head of the Customs and Immigration Authority Ashraf Reda said that they haven’t received any new visa regulations from the foreign ministry.

"We will be working by the old visa procedures until we get other instructions," Reda said.

Many nationalities, including Europeans and American, were allowed to obtain an Egyptian visa at the airport upon arrival.

Starting May 15, individual tourists wishing to visit Egypt should  apply online for the visas or go to the nearest Egyptian consulates in their countries, according to the spokesperson of the Egyptian foreign ministry.

"Just like all other countries, before you travel you need to get the visa first, that would be the case for individuals," Abdel Ati said.

The cost of the Egyptian visas will remain the same as the old price which was $15 per person.

A similar decision was taken in 2011; however, the Egyptian government suspended it after a public outcry, especially from the tourism industry sector.

Egypt has been a magnet for tourists interested in ancient sites, Red Sea resorts, or Nile cruises.

Tourism is an important source of income for the Egyptian foreign currency. However, it has been hammered since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Egypt received over 14.7 million tourists in 2010. Though since the 2011 uprising, the number of visitors dropped to 9.8 million. In 2012, the number of tourists rose to 11.5 million but fell again in 2013 to 9.5 million with revenues of $5.9 billion.

Former foreign minister Hisham Zaazou told Reuters at the end of last year that tourism may fully recover by the end of 2015.

 
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