File photo: Tourists swim in the sea in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, November 7, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s tourism minister promised on Tuesday that visa procedures would be "facilitated" for visitors from Arab countries, ahead of a hoped-for increase in visitors during Ramadan and the summer holidays.
According to a ministerial statement released on Tuesday, visitors from the Arab Cooperation Council countries would have their visas facilitated, as would those accompanying those tourists.
Sources told Ahram Online that such measures would apply to non-Arab nationals who were travelling with Arab employers under the employer-sponsorship system, primarily used in Arab countries for domestic workers. Under these facilitation measures, citizens of those countries would now receive on-arrival visas when accompanying their employers.
Minister Yehia Rashid, currently attending the Arabian Travel Marketing event in Dubai, also spoke with a number of Gulf airline companies to increase direct flights between their respective countries and the Red Sea resort towns of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.
The minister's talk with the airline companies comes ahead of a tourism campaign that is scheduled to kickstart during the Islamic month of Ramadan, targeting Arab tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan.
The campaigns aims to attract Arab tourism during Ramadan, scheduled to begin in late May, as well as during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday which follows the month, and the summer season.
Egypt plans to attract 12 million tourists until end of 2017 through planning increased routes for national carrier EgyptAir, Rashid said in an interview with Reuters last year.
Egypt's tourism industry has been suffering acutely since a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board, mostly holidaymakers.
However, the country saw a 51 percent rise in number of tourists visiting Egypt during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, an official source at the tourism ministry told Ahram Online earlier this week.
Germany topped the list of visiting tourists during the three first months of 2017, followed by Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Kingdom, said the source, who gave no figures and asked to remain anonymous.