This story was posted Sept. 8, 2023. For the latest updated story, posted Sept. 12, 2023, click here.
TORONTO — Frustration is mounting for travel agents, tour operators and travellers amid ongoing confusion and looming deadlines for Egypt’s new visa process.
As reported earlier, effective Oct. 1 the Egyptian government will no longer allow Canadians to obtain visas through the online eVisa process. Instead, Canadians planning trips to Egypt will be required to obtain a visa from an Egyptian embassy or consulate. And as of Oct. 1, eVisas for the country will no longer be valid.
Now more new details have emerged – but keep in mind, they’re unconfirmed. Gateways International’s Talia May says she received an update yesterday from the tour operator’s local representative/DMC in Egypt. “This is the most up to date information we have but always subject to change,” says May.
According to the local rep/DMC, there could be a reprieve for eVisas obtained through the online portal, with an announcement potentially coming Sept. 10.
Another unconfirmed rumour came courtesy of travel advisor Martin McQuillan with Ensemble Elite Travel in Gibsons, B.C., who told Travelweek he heard from his connection at Egypt & Beyond in Cairo that all online visas issued before Oct. 1, 2023 will be accepted for travel to Egypt.
Are these false leads? Time will tell, and hopefully by this Sunday or Monday travellers and the travel industry will have a definitive answer.
Meanwhile the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) is expressing its shock over the new travel restrictions that Canadian tourists must face when traveling to Egypt.
As CATO notes, Canadian travellers are no longer able to obtain a visa upon arriving in Cairo. Instead, they must request their visa in person at the Egyptian Embassy located in Ottawa or Montreal or send a postal application. “Whether applying in person or by mail, these changes bring added unwanted complexity to the traveller. This is clearly prohibitive for anyone. This new regulation is effective as of October 1st, 2023,” notes CATO.
The statement continues: “This change presents a significant issue for tourists who are leaving in October and will likely cause frustration for those departing later, especially for group travellers. These new restrictions could also potentially decrease the interest of many Canadian travelers and discourage them from visiting Egypt. These changes create barriers against selling Egypt to Canadian citizens, and CATO members have indicated an increased number of calls from worried travelers and travel agents due to these abrupt changes.”
CATO says it hopes that the Egyptian Authority will understand the importance of Canadian business in Egypt and recognize the pivotal role that tour operators play as partners to the destination and its tourism business. CATO is also urging the Egyptian government to reconsider these restrictions and, if not upon arrival in Egypt, to at least allow an ongoing permanent online application form. CATO is also asking for more lead time with these changes.
“CATO is working hard to reach out to government officials and representatives at the Egyptian Embassy for a resolution to this situation that will benefit everyone impacted,” said Jean Hébert, Executive Director at CATO.