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CATO “Shocked” at New Egypt Travel Restrictions; Agents Left Hanging

The new restrictions for Canadian tourists travelling to Egypt as of October 1, 2023 are causing confusion and anger as the deadline looms and agents and travellers with scheduled trips scramble to get the correct information and new necessary visas needed for travel.

Canadian travellers are no longer able to obtain a visa on arrival in Cairo, instead they must apply in person at the Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa or Montreal, or send an application by mail.  

“This is clearly prohibitive for anyone,” reads a Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) statement sent Thursday afternoon. 

“CATO, is expressing its shock over the new travel restrictions that Canadian tourists must face when traveling to Egypt. 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.”

CATO says these new restrictions could also potentially decrease the interest of many Canadian travellers 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 travellers and travel agents due to these abrupt changes.

Kelly Dibben of Alberta Motor Association (AMA Travel), has clients who are now hesitant to make final payment on a $40,000 booking.

“What a loss for me and for them,” she tells TravelPulse Canada. “Travel is always a personal choice so you have to be comfortable going into any trip. I went to Egypt myself last year with the eVisa and it was unforgettable, it was the trip of a lifetime.

Understandably, clients out West are really struggling. If we have to head East or mail applications in, that really changes the dynamics. How long is the turn around time? Are the offices equipped for the onslaught of applications? Will they get their passports back in time?”

Dibben says as an agent, she has to respect and heed the advice and warnings of the Canadian Government, but says the whole situation is heartbreaking. 

“It’s heartbreaking financially for clients and also from my personal experience. I know how magnificent Egypt is as a country and I want everyone to have the chance to go.” 

Cathy Wiechnik, an agent with TravelOnly echoes the Western concerns.

“I have three clients booked on an Exoticca “Africa from North to South” that starts in Cairo in early November. Trying to figure out the process to get them visas when we live in Alberta has been a total nightmare. Having them mail their passports to an embassy office that I’m certain is piled high with applications has me worried sick. It’s a nightmare from hell.”

According to a statement from the Egyptian Embassy to the CBC, the new rules are a response to Canadian measures that deny visas to Egyptian citizens. It claims those measures are “offensive in nature to the dignity of the Egyptian state.” 

CATO says they hope “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 urges the government in Egypt to reconsider these restrictions and, if not upon arrival in Egypt, to at least allow an ongoing permanent online application form. Additionally, we ask 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. 

Source: Travel Pulse

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