Egypt has long been known as a major tourist destination attracting visitors from across the globe. Travelers come to Egypt to get a glimpse at the only standing original Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza. As one of the main ancient and cultural hubs, visitors can appreciate mosques and temples, mummies and hieroglyphics, booming cities and sleepy towns.
With the recent unrest in the region, however, the number of tourists in Egypt has been declining. Last week, Egyptian officials stated that revenues from the tourism industry reduced over the year from $10.6 billion USD (2010-11) to $11.6 billion USD (2009-10).
On Thursday, however, an announcement curtailed any hope that these numbers would reverse. The Egyptian government announced visa changes in Egypt that will affect individual travelers. The Egyptian government stated that, regardless of origin, tourists would now be required to apply for a visa through local embassies and consulates prior to their arrival (this is waived for tourists groups traveling with licensed tour operators). This announcement ends the decade-long unrestricted entry for visitors from the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asian countries, Australia, and Gulf countries which were able to simply obtain their visa at a major entryway into the country.
The actual day of implementation is still unknown. Cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy said that this may start as early as next week, however, no official date has been set. In the interim, travelers will be subject to the old regulation of obtaining a visa upon arrival. The implications of this new regulation is still unknown, however, tourism officials are up in arms. Amr el-Ezzaby, head of the Tourism Promotion Organization, said that these new visa changes in Egypt will not “only hurt Egypt’s tourism but the image of Egypt as a stable country.”