On-arrival visas to be scrapped within 6-8 months: Egypt's tourism minister
Ahram Online, , Monday 6 Apr 2015
Individual tourists will be required to obtain a visa via a new system before they come to Egypt when the changes are implemented

Egypt will no longer allow tourists from certain countries to obtain a visa on arrival at the airport "within six to eight months" said the country's tourism ministry on Tuesday.

The change in visa regulations will require all individual tourists to obtain a visa before travelling to Egypt, in place of a current system whereby citizens of a number of countries are able to purchase a tourist visa on entry to Egypt.

Tourists travelling with tour operators will still be able to purchase a visa on arrival.

The change in policy was first announced in March to be activated in May, but was postponed amid widespread criticism from tourism operators. A foreign ministry statement said that the change in policy would be implemented when a new e-visa system was in place.

Egypt's Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy said that the new e-visa system will work on drawing tourists to the country while at the same time ensuring that Egypt's internal security won't be jeopardised, MENA reported.

The initial decision to end visas on arrival sparked criticism from local and international tour operators, who argued that it would deter travelers at a time when Egypt is working on shoring up its flagging economy.

Egypt's once flourishing tourism industry has been hammered by protracted political turmoil since the 2011 popular revolt that toppled long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak.

In 2014, around 10 million tourists visited Egypt, a sharp slump from a record 2010 figure of over 14.7 million who visited the country's ancient sites and sea resorts.

The tourism industry contributes 11.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product and generates over 14 percent of foreign currency revenues.

The March announcement was not the first time that tighter visa regulations were proposed.

In September 2011, authorities approved rules that would have required individual tourists to apply for visas in their home countries before entering Egypt, but the plans were suspended and shelved three days later.