Stupid: Egypt More Than Doubles Cost Of Tourist Visas

Oh, Egypt.

Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered greatly ever since the revolution, and even more so after a Russian charter plane was blown up after takeoff from Egypt in 2015. I’ve had great experiences visiting Egypt (largely motived by the cheap first & business class tickets bookable out of Cairo), and have always felt safe.

Egypt is hoping to once again grow their tourism industry, and last I heard they were aiming for at least 20 million tourists per year by 2020 (which is a lofty goal).

Pyramids-of-Giza

However, rather than removing the barriers for people to visit and welcoming people with open arms, the Egyptian government seems to be doing everything they can to deter people from visiting instead.

For example, in 2015 Egypt planned on discontinuing visas on arrival for tourists, though they quickly postponed that, realizing the impact it would have on tourism.

While Egypt will continue to issue visas on arrival, they’re greatly increasing the cost of them.

The cost of a visa on arrival in Egypt will be increasing from 25USD to 60USD as of March 1, 2017. Per news24:

Egyptian airport officials say that authorities are more than doubling the cost of entry visas for foreign visitors starting next week.

The officials said on Friday that foreigners will have to pay $60 per visa, up from $25 and $70 for multiple entry visas.

What makes this especially ridiculous is that a visa on arrival is literally just a way to generate revenue. It’s not like a visa in advance, where in theory they can vet the people visiting. With a visa on arrival they’re just charging you money for the privilege of stamping your passport.

Just a few months ago Egypt devalued their currency, meaning that Egypt got even cheaper for those paying in foreign currencies. That means the visa cost, which is charged in USD, is proportionally going up even more when calculated in Egyptian Pounds.

I understand that Egypt is struggling, and feel horribly for the people working in tourism there. However, more than doubling the visa on arrival fee does very little to encourage people to visit, and actually sends the opposite message.

It’s a shame to see the approach that the Egyptian government is taking here, with so little advance notice, no less…

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

Comments

  1. To be fair, people arent going to stop going to egypt just because the visa cost is a bit higher.

    In fact most people won’t realise this till after theyve booked flights/organised their trip…. or they won’t even know its gone up because they didn’t know what it was before

  2. OMG! How will the rich people who can afford first class paid tickets, be able to pay the extra 35 dollars?

  3. The comments here are ridiculous ! Just because some of us travel and stay in high end hotels and fly first class doesn’t mean we are rich or have unlimited funds.. I know I don’t ! A lot of times I buy Tickets on sale or error fare or use miles … about hotels I’ve never paid 2000 a night or even close but I’ve stayed in rooms worth that on points or as a major upgrade .. just because you don’t know how we do it don’t attack us as advantaged rich people ! It’s rude and tacky to ASSume! I don’t think Lucky was complaining because he can’t afford it , he was making a very VALID and LEGITIMATE point that it is counterproductive in Egypts current environment and circumstances! And when you travel a lot that extra 35 here and 100 here adds up fast , at least for me it does !!!

  4. $60 seems pretty fair, no discouraging at all to see such an amazing place. If you can afford “cheap” First and Biz class tickets you should have no problem paying the fee to enter. They are not taking advantage of tourists, they are trying to rebound and gain revenue. $60 is nothing compared to what we charge them.

  5. @Tony,

    This is small change compared to most other visas, even VOAs. And I’m one of those travelers you’re talking about. I’m pointing out that Luckys logic on spending is absent – he finds value in spending $2,000 on a hotel in Laos where 5 star properties are $150, but doesn’t understand a $35 increase in a VOA.

    Lucky is excellent at first class flight reviews, but when it comes to all other aspects of travel such as this, the logic is lacking.

  6. I think it’s not about the extra $35’s value, but about it from a psychological standpoint. It’s nickel and diming you, and doing it in a very obvious way while poorly trying to hide the motivation. It reminds me of the landing fees charged in the UK.

    If they rounded this into a fee charged on your airplane ticket, like the UK one is, I doubt they’d get as much pushback. Otherwise it’s like finding out your $500/night hotel room charged you $4 for that bottle of water.

  7. Why does everyone keep remarking on how this isn’t an issue for first and business class passengers? The charge isn’t fare-specific. You know, sometimes Ben comments on travel matters that affect everyone, not just him.

    That said, how much is this going to affect demand for travel to Egypt? Probably not that much, it’s not like a generic beach-resort destination where visitors can easily switch to another choice. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like a way to say “please come visit our country”.

  8. Whop-pit-tee ding dong. I never see any complaints about Thailand’s 500 Baht exit fee, paid in cash before security….oh wait, it’s a departure tax now at 700 Baht included as part of your flight ticket. Or the US entry and exit [hidden] fees, taxes, whatever, imposed as part of an airline’s ticket price. Or Australia’s free 1 year e-visa that one has to apply for before flying.

    So Egypt pumping $60.00 for an entry fee is nothing. I have no plans to go there any-hoot.

    Maybe we can declare $20,000 when traveling rather that $10,000 soon. Maybe Americans can import goods at $1600 into the US, rather than $800 per 30 days.

  9. @Tony Baker:

    “Just because some of us travel and stay in high end hotels and fly first class doesn’t mean we are rich or have unlimited funds…..”

    Pay off those credit cards in full….oh, you can’t. lol

  10. Furthermore people are thinking very ethnocentric … most of egypts tourism is from poor and middle class communities not the USA. As a matter of FACT the USA is a TINYfraction of people going there! So for a family from Ukraine that’s going there for the $30 rooms probably will have to rethink things or stay a day less . We Americans seem to base everything on us, (ethnocentric). An extra 35 to us in most cases IS NOT a huge deal. It although we think the world revolves around us it does not ! When I was there for 2 weeks in December I mostly saw lower class to middle class families from Ukraine and other Arab counties , as a matter of fact in my hotel in Sharm it was myself and a Ukraine family and a group of Iraqis … and from the looks of it that extra 35 would add up fast to them !

  11. @CraigTPA

    “That said, how much is this going to affect demand for travel to Egypt? Probably not that much, it’s not like a generic beach-resort destination where visitors can easily switch to another choice.”

    You might want to look up the Red sea Riviera.

    Most tourist going to Egypt is going to generic beach-resorts, not Cairo. For large portions of Europe, especially the poorer eastern part Egypt is equivalent of a cheap beach resort in Mexico.

    So yes this is a case of take gun, aim at foot, pull trigger.

  12. Everyone listen to @Tony Baker!

    Of course the increased visa fee is not to bother wealthier travelers. But it is going to sorely hurt those with limited travel funds.

  13. As Adam says, on the TripAdvisor forums, it is being said that the decision has been revoked; but they actually go on to say that the price rise has been delayed, and due to come into force 01/07/2017. This seems to be the more up to date news on the situation.

    I think for some, the short notice to the increase in cost was of more annoyance than the actual increase itself.

  14. Economics 101 states this will at least have some impact at the margin on some discretionary travel. It certainly won’t INCREASE the number of visitors. It may not even increase their total revenue from visa fees.

  15. @No Name

    Exactly, some of these commenters look at this in an “American-centric” way, or however I should call it. Most people I know that go to Egypt, and I live in Western Europe, are going there on all-in holiday packages to Hurghada, Sharm-el-Sheikh or any other beach resort town to escape the winter temperatures. Demand to Egypt is on an historical low due to the instability in the region. So making prices for these VOA’s higher doesn’t really help boosting tourism.

  16. Disagree that it’s stupid. I don’t have the data, but I suspect that the vast majority of tourists won’t be dussuaded by $35 extra, so this is a reatively economically efficient way of generating tax revenue (and unlike other taxes, easy to collect and hard to avoid). BUT, I do suspect it will have some effect on low-priced lodgings as bargain hunters might choose alternative places, but I don’t know what percentage of international tourists to Egypt are that price-conscious. Interesting news, but not clear it merits the “stupid” descriptor.

  17. As this is mostly American forum, I guess most of the people are considering American prices… From Europe you can fly for one weak holidays in Egypt (4 star hotel, all-inclusive, flight and transport included) for as much as 350-400 USD. So 35 USD extra is 10% more for the whole trip… Egypt for many people is very cheap place for holidays and sunbathing – should they pay more, they will just chose another country like Turkey or they will not fly at all. Remember than in many Eastern Europe countries the average monthly salary is about 1000 USD – so this extra 35 may make the difference.

  18. ” With a visa on arrival they’re just charging you money for the privilege of stamping your passport.”

    Theoretically one could call it a user fee as the immigration and customs facilities are certainly not free to operate and staff… and a shortsighted gov’t could make the case that it’s worth charging visitors who would be quite talented to avoid spending money as guests in their country a user fee for consuming such resources.

  19. Meanwhile, A US visa costs how many hundreds of dollars? Unless you actually need it of course, in which case you have to pay for the expedited one and the cost will be in the thousands.
    what’s another $35 dollars? If I went to Egypt I wouldn’t care less. Good idea to raise the price in my opinion – you have to raise the money somewhere.

  20. A us visa is $160 and generally good for 5-10 years for most countries. For the times some people come to the US, its pretty cheap over the course of 10 years. $60 for a single entry is steep, but probably won’t dissuade rich people who go for luxury tours. It’s not a huge deal, but I don’t see this helping them more than hurting them… The US could probably charge $160 for a single entry visa (they do for some nations) and get away with it and people would still be clamoring to come.

  21. I Travel where it’s NO HASSLE and NO Visa’s and I don’t want to PAY to spend a lot of money there . I don’t Care what the RICH do .

    CHEERs

  22. This isn’t about first and business class passengers and their discretionary income. I mean, multi-millionaires still know the value of a dollar and can recognize price gouging when they see it. And, this is exactly that. If Egypt is really on someone’s bucket list then I doubt a $35 increase will deter them. But maybe it will for someone who was on the fence, combined with the turmoil in the region.

  23. Maybe I am the only one on here who avoids a country trying to rip me off with their visa fees? It would seem so. I’ve wanted to visit Minsk in Belarus for a long time but refused to pay their visa fee. Yes, just out of principle. Eff them for the “privilege” of entering their country and spending my money. Now, they’ve dropped the visa fee for a stay of five days or less. Guess what? I’m planning a trip to Minsk.

  24. Crazy. It would have made more sense for them to introduce an E-Visa (single and multiple) similar to that offered by Turkey ( and Turkey used to have a very similar visa on arrival scheme).
    I go though Cairo about 8 times a year, almost always overnight, usually connecting to/from EUropean cities on Egyptair.
    The current system is ok ( although very heavy on passport pages).The new one will add almost 300 USD a year and will likely lead to a change in my plans.
    I meet quite a few people at Le Meridien and at the airport who do similar.

  25. Vietnam scraped the charge for 5 countries as a trial a while ago and arrivals greatly increased.

    People DO avoid countries with high visa costs – me included.

  26. Organize a boycott and online petition of the Egyptian Tourist Board over their policies and rules.

    Charge $35.00 US Dollars and a handling fee for a weekly blog/newsletter.

    Give away flight pajama packs to the first twenty subscribers and charge them a shipping and handing charge.

    Go review Delta economy transcon meals and write a review.

    Quit beating dead horses and get on with it. Less is more sometimes.

  27. To the people who say this visa fee won’t make a difference I disagree. I’m sure there are people looking at a variety of places to travel and if they narrow it down to two choices and they can’t decide and one has a high visa fee and the other doesn’t have a fee that may make the difference, especially for people who are travelling as a larger family where you have to multiple the cost of the visa for each member of the family and they have a limited income. I’m kinda surprised Egypt would even think to do this after the hit tourism took as a result of all the instability.

  28. Egypt is one of the places I was considering for my next trip. I have not visited the middle east, but have travelled europe extensively and explored a chunk of asia. What countries would be good to also visit in addition to Egypt. I was thinking Egypt/Israel. From NYC are there any awards that are ideal to reach this area of the world?

  29. I live in Egypt and see the limit number of tourists still coming in. The majority tofay are package tourists from China and countries in the Arab world and other parts of North Africa, in Cairo at least. The beach resorts in sharm are fairly empty still.

    I think this fee will be “delayed” like the previous plan to require a visa from an Egyptian embassy before arrival. The idea was the fee would pay for the implementation of an E-visa system, which would be good.

    While 35USD isn’t much for many, for arrival family of 4 or 5 from Eastern Europe it will mean going somewhere else. Many here argue that’s fine and that Egypt needs a better class of tourist than the 400 EUR all-inclusive group, but when few are coming…

  30. Some people here are so stupid with their comments, if you are rich does not mean you can not feel things are expensive, according to them if you are a billionaire then you should lose the right to feel expensive if people charge you $50 for a hot dog? Feeling expensive and able afford to pay are two different things. I agree it is dump if your tourism is struggling, no people want to go to your country and now you are charging people even more to go to your country, what sense does it make?

  31. This is not ideal. The government of Egypt obviously want to see increasing revenue, while it’s not possible to tax their citizen more given their own current economy. So the tourist are targeted. It’s short sighted but the money is badly needed.

    In my opinion, they should still increase the visa fee but not that much. $ 10-15 is understandable but $ 35 is steep and unhelpful towards it’s tourism sector. Alternatively, they can introduce e-visa (still with increased fee) but with discount on double or multiple entry or prolonged stay. That way they can get the money they want and frequent visitor will still return. However, with the lack of money, they’d hesitate to invest in such scheme nonetheless.

    In the end, as the citizen of ‘third world country’ who basically need visa everywhere we go, I find it understandable. Given the likes of Schengen, UK, and many other ‘first world country’ visa for visitor, they are comparably expensive and rather in months than years duration too. (unlike Australia and US who give multiple years visiting visa).

  32. $60 is still cheaper than what many people from a ‘third world country’ would have to pay for a tourist visa to the US/the UK/the EU/Canada/etc.

  33. I hope Janet’s update that it’s been postponed until 01/07/2017 is accurate. I’m booked to fly in on 26/06/2017.

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