Monday, September 12, 2011

New Regulations Make It More Difficult to Visit Egypt

Sphinx of Ramses II, Lake Nasser, Egypt
On the eve of Egypt's elections, it looks like those currently in power are choosing secrecy and control over the economy. How else to explain the issuing of new visa regulations late last week, which will force would-be visitors to head to their local Egyptian embassy to get a visa before landing in Egypt? Previously, tourists could simply get a visa at an Egyptian border.

The new move is sure to discourage tourism in a country that's dependent on the travel industry (by some estimates, 10% of all Egyptians work in the tourism sector). Reports of rising xenophobia in the country may also be behind the policy.

Though the Washington, DC Egyptian Embassy hadn't heard of the move when reporters queried officials there, government workers in Egypt have said that it will go into effect sometime this week. The new regulation does not affect those traveling with group tours, only independent travelers.

Editor's Note: Egyptian authorities have reversed themselves and have withdrawn a plan to require advance visa of solo travelers. Glad to see that smarter--and more business savvy--heads prevailed on this one.

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