Egypt cancels plan to tighten tourist visa rules

September 11, 2011 20:26

CAIRO - Egypt has canceled plans to tighten visa restrictions on tourists, state media reported on Sunday, after tour operators said the new rules would drive visitors away.

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.

The rules would have forced individual tourists to get entry visas in their home countries before entering Egypt. Only people traveling 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.

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