Egypt delays ending on-arrival visas for lone travellers

Cairo (Mikael Damkier/

Cairo (Mikael Damkier/


, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

Egypt on Thursday postponed a deadline to stop issuing on-arrival visas for lone travellers until the creation of an electronic visa system, after critics said the move could damage tourism.

Government officials said last month that starting from May 15 on-arrival visas would be granted only to groups travelling with tour operators.

Lone travellers would be required to apply for visas at Egyptian consulates, in a move aimed at bolstering border security.

But the deadline has been "postponed" until an electronic visa system is in place, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"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 ministry said.

It gave no timeline for when the electronic visa system might be in place.

Egypt is trying to woo back tourists after almost four years of unrest 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 Red Sea resorts.

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, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in 2013 have targeted policemen and soldiers.