Egypt to end on-arrival visas for lone travellers: Officials

The move is aimed at bolstering border security but prompting fears that tourism revenues could be harmed.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 18 Mar 2015, 11:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:09 PM

Egypt will stop issuing on-arrival visas to tourists travelling alone, officials said Tuesday, in a move aimed at bolstering border security but prompting fears that tourism revenues could be harmed.

Groups travelling with tour operators will be exempted from the measure, which goes into effect on May 15, but others will have to apply at consulates abroad, tourism and foreign ministry officials said.

The country is trying to woo back tourists after almost four years of unrest has damaged the economy and hit the once-thriving industry and as it battles militants who have killed scores of security personnel.

About 10 million tourists visited in 2014, down sharply from a 2010 figure of almost 15 million people drawn to the country’s archaeological sites and pristine Red Sea resorts.

Between five and seven per cent of them arrived alone, tourism ministry spokeswoman Rasha Al Azayzi told AFP

“It is certainly a decision related to security,” she said, confirming that only groups that have booked with tour operators may still receive the visas at airports.

A foreign ministry official confirmed the decision, which a senior security official said would continue to be studied.

“It achieves the security objective but, for a country that attracts tourists, there is fear that this will have a negative impact,” he said.

Tourists have mostly been spared the sporadic violence that has killed more than 1,000 people since 2011, when a popular uprising overthrew longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

Three South Korean tourists were killed in a 2014 suicide bombing aboard a bus in the resort town of Taba on Israel’s border.

Most militant attacks since the army overthrew Mubarak’s successor, president Mohammed Mursi, in 2013 have targeted policemen and soldiers.

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