CAIRO: Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou announced Wednesday that the entry visa to Egypt will increase from U.S. $15 to $20, according to Al-Ahram.
“The increase is marginal, and it would not affect the flow of tourists to Egypt,” said Zazou, who added that the decision will be enforced starting from May 1.
The decision to increase the price of the entry visa to Egypt was initially meant to be implemented in November 2013, but it was then postponed to February and finally to May.
“Despite the increase, the fee for Egypt’s entry visa is still ranked amongst the lowest in the whole world,” Vice Chairman of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETTA) Naser Torky told The Cairo Post.
However, Moataz el-Sayed, Head of Egypt’s Tour Guides Syndicates told The Cairo Post that the increase in the fees of the entry visa to Egypt is “unjustified” amid the current unprecedented recession in the tourism industry.
“The Ministry of Tourism should have delayed its decision until the beginning of the upcoming high-season of tourism that begins in September,” said Sayed.
Head of Abercrombie & Kent Egypt Amr Badr also expressed his dissatisfaction with the “abrupt” decision, and explained that the increase will accordingly raise the price of the travel packages.
“I agree that U.S. $5 per person is a slight increase, but with the recent 40 percent increase in the archaeological sites’ entrance fees implemented starting from October 2013, the price of travel packages increased dramatically,” Badr told The Cairo Post.
The decision aims to tackle the deficit in the state’s general budget following the January 25 Revolution that caused economic slowdown, as political and institutional uncertainty and rising insecurity continue to hurt the tourism, manufacturing, and construction sectors.
In order to secure a U.S. $4.8bn loan from the International Monetary Fund, the government also plans to cut its energy and food subsidies by up to a third over the next year, as part of a plan to reform the deteriorating economic situation.
Despite ongoing campaigns to assure foreigners that the country is a safe destination, the tourism sector has been in constant decline since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped a significant 27 percent in February, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Egypt depends on tourism for around 20 percent of its hard currency. The sector’s total investments are valued at 68 billion EGP (U.S. $9.8 billion,) according to the Ministry of Tourism.