Visa Changes for Egypt
How does it affect tourism?
You may not be aware, but from 15 May 2015, anyone visiting Egypt as an individual, outside of a tour operator group, must apply for their entry visa beforehand, by contacting the Egyptian embassy in their country of origin.
What does this mean?
Basically if you’re travelling to Egypt as part of a group, i.e. a package holiday or a family holiday, then you can still simply turn up at the airport and buy a visa stamp as before. No problem. If however you’re travelling as an individual, and you’re working out your travel plans on a DIY basis, then you need to apply to the embassy beforehand.
If this is the category you fall into, you will be required to either make an appointment at the embassy, or apply by post. The Egyptian Consulate in London have stated that processing a visa in person takes up to two working days, and processing a postal application visa takes up to five working days. The cost currently is £20, but it is unclear whether this could change or not, so certainly check ahead of time.
Why the rule changes?
Over the last few years there has been a lot of political unrest in Egypt, and more recently a growing Islamic insurgency problem, particularly within the Sinai region of the country. In order to allow Egypt’s intelligence agencies to assess risk of those entering the country, a more rigid visa granting system is to be put in place, in the hope that this will help identify potential problems and cut down on risk.
The rule changes aren’t expected to cause major problems for your run of the mill tourists, because most people enter Egypt for holidays, to such places as Hurghada and Sharm el Sheik for the plentiful diving opportunities and all the fun of the sun, winter or summer, and for these people the rules remain unchanged. It is unclear however how this will affect lone travellers, such as those simply going on holiday alone for rest and relaxation, and more clarification is needed.
Egypt has seen a drop in tourism over the last four years, from a high of 14.7 million tourists in 2010, to 10 million in 2014, and this is generally thought to centre around the recent unrest. Despite the fact Egypt is a huge country, any unrest, whether it is thousands of miles away or not, does have a direct impact on tourism, and when you consider that Egypt relies a lot on the money brought in from tourism, you can understand why further measures are being put into place to try and bring up visitor figures once more.