Egypt abandons plans to tighten visa restrictions


CAIRO, Egypt – According to the state media, Egypt abandoned plans to change visa requirements for individual tourists, after several major tour operators complained that the new restrictions would keep foreign visitors away.

Reuters reports that Egypt’s government approved the restrictions three days ago, saying it wanted to improve security.

But it changed its mind when officials warned the changes would damage a vital industry, already hurting after this year’s uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.

According to Reuters, the rules would have forced individual tourists to get entry visas in their home countries before entering Egypt. Only people travelling with approved tour companies would have been able to continue getting visas at Egyptian airports.

“Issuing a decision like this would have severe negative effects on tourism which was made obvious by reactions from inside and outside Egypt and this led to canceling the decision completely,” Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour was quoted as saying.

Tourism revenue plunged 47.5 percent to $3.6 billion in January to June this year compared with $6.9 billion in July to December 2010, before the uprising.