Egypt to require pre-obtained visas for foreigners of any nationality

Ahram Online , Tuesday 17 Mar 2015

Only tourists on organised trips will be exempt from the rule

Sharm el-Sheikh
People and tourists are pictured along Naama Bay street at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 14, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Any person wishing to enter Egypt will need to obtain a visa before departure and will not be offered it at the airport upon arrival, Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs announced on Monday. 

Individual tourists must obtain visas for tourism purposes from Egypt's diplomatic missions prior to their arrival in Egypt, the statement says.

Organised tourist groups will be the only exception, according to the statement.

The decision will apply from 15 May 2015.

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

The same decision was taken in September 2011 but the government suspended it after three days due to a public outcry and accusations that it will be a big blow to Egypt’s tourism industry.

"This is an act of state sovereignty,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atti told Ahram Online. “Every country has the right to protect its borders."

But the tourism sector has expressed its concern.

"We do not have diplomatic missions in all cities for independent tourists to apply for a visa,” chairman of Egypt's Federation of Tourism Chambers (EFTC) Elhamy El-Zayat told Ahram Online. “Many people, especially frequent travelers, won't like to send their passports away by mail to get visas, because they may need their passport at any time."

El-Zayat discussed the matter with tourism minister Khaled Rami on Monday, he said.

The EFTC chairman suggested that a new system be implemented to allow tourists to apply for visas online, as either groups or individuals.

"We are open to [other] suggestions," he added. 

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