In a bid to boost its tourism industry, Egypt is looking to exempt visa procedures for neighbouring countries in the North African region. It is being reported that only Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are part of the exempted countries that will no longer have to obtain tourist visas, it was reported in The North Africa Post.
Egypt plans for no-visa rule
Hisham Zaazou, Egypt’s tourism minister was quoted saying that “Egypt welcomes Arab tourism and the government is working to remove all obstacles in this regard, including visa requirements.” The move is geared towards attracting regional tourism by seducing Arabs into visiting the country through the reduction of bureaucracy involved in the visa acquisition. The government is trying to promote Arab tourism and according to state-run statistics agency Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Arab tourists spent roughly 337,000 nights in Egypt last year.
Minister Zaazou highlighted that a total of 11.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2012 and it generated around $10 billion in revenue for the state. He declared that their ambition is to get back to where they were before the revolution began. This means that the government sought to attract 15 million tourists a year.
The minister is determined to reach these objectives and has been travelling across the Middle East and North Africa. At present, he is in Iran where it is believed that he will work towards bolstering Egypt’s tourism ties with the Persian country.
The minister also recently announced on CNN spoke about plans to install live webcams in holiday hotspots to prove the country’s industry remains healthy.
According to Zazou, the cameras will broadcast live video of holiday makers on the beach “basking in the sun giving more credibility.
Egypt’s beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh and the ancient Pyramids in Giza have long pulled tourism revenue, giving a vital boost to the Egyptian economy. But Egypt’s image as a tourism destination has suffered since the Arab Spring erupted in Tunisia just over two years ago and spread across the Middle East.
But according to Zazou, the 11.5 million visitors to Egypt last year is cause for optimism. This is compared with 9.5 million in 2011 and 14.1 million in 2010, prior to the outbreak Arab Spring, according to data from the UNWTO.