Egypt Relaxes Tourist Visa Requirements For Saudis

RIYADH, 7 June 2005 — Egypt has announced relaxed tourist visa requirements for Saudi nationals. The new conditions are part of its efforts to woo more tourists from the region after a sharp drop in tourist traffic was reported between the Kingdom and Western destinations since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The move on the part of Cairo comes after other countries including Turkey recently relaxed visa procedures to attract more tourists and businessmen from the Kingdom.

“The relaxed visa norms will also apply for nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries,” said Ahmed Al-Khadim, president of the Cairo-based General Authority for Tourism Promotion.

The concessions granted to visa applicants now include offering tourist visas for nationals at seaports and land entry points. Tourists or expatriates of other nationalities can also obtain multiple entry visas valid for a year within 72 hours of applying.

The new regulation, which will substantially ease the issuance of visas, is a welcome move as more than 309,000 Saudis visited Egypt last year.

Saudi Arabia ranks second in terms of investment in Egypt and it accounts for 40 percent of all Arab investments in that country. Saudi-Egyptian trade exceeds SR3.5 billion annually.

Referring to the facilities offered by Egypt under the new regime, Al-Khadim said that the Gulf tourists can also stay in Egypt for one year on renewable tourist visas and by paying the vehicle fees they can keep their private vehicles there for up to six months.

This will be in addition to private tour operators and travel and tourism companies, which have geared themselves up to serve more tourists with tailor-made packages this year.

He said that Egypt attracted some 1.5 million Arab tourists including Saudis last year.

According to statistics, out of 1.5 million Arab tourists who visited Egypt last year, 344,000 were from Libya followed by 309,000 Saudis. Of the total tourist inflow last year, 18 to 20 percent were from Arab countries, which is second to the number of European tourists.

Al-Khadim and his entourage are presently on a visit to the Gulf countries including Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. He will also visit Jordan after wrapping up his visit to the Gulf.

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