Egypt has shelved its plan to deny British tourists the opportunity to apply for visas on arrival, instead announcing a new electronic visa system would be introduced, despite declining to put a timeframe on its implementation.
Last month, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced that from 15 May, all Britons not part of tour groups visiting the country would no longer be able to apply for a visa on arrival. Instead, they would have to apply and pay for a visa in London prior to departure.
The decision was seen as a move to tighten security protocols in Egypt, which has faced threats from Islamic militants in the wake of the military-led overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The reversal came after the government faced criticism from the country’s tourism sector, which has struggled to recover from the recession and fallout from the disastrous reign of Morsi.
As a result, independent travellers can still apply for a $25 visa on arrival at Luxor, Cairo, and a free entry stamp at Sharm el-Sheikh.
Commenting on the proposed electronic visa system that will replace visas on arrival, the Foreign Ministry said: “The purpose of this measure is to organise the process of foreigners entering the country within a framework that respects national sovereignty, considers national security, and at the same time does not affect tourism. “
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) welcomed the decision. “ABTA and its Members work closely with the Egyptian authorities and are pleased to see this decision made which will allow the hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers who visit Egypt every year to continue to do so easily and remove any uncertainty that has arisen recently,” it said in a statement.