Confusion surrounds new Egypt visa rules

By Juliet Dennis | 25 March 2015 at 08.30 GMT

New regulations are expected on May 15 as part of a security crackdown to deter terrorists from travelling to Egypt.

The UK office of the Egyptian State Tourist Office said talks were ongoing, with exact details due at the end of this week.

But Egypt ministry of tourism spokeswoman Rasha Azaizi said anyone booking a trip independently, and not being met by a ground-handling agent, would need a visa in advance.

Holidaymakers booking through an operator will not be affected, but it was unclear whether tourists who book flight-only or accommodation-only through an agent would continue to be able to obtain a visa upon arrival.

“These changes will just apply to independent travellers,” said Azaizi. “Those people handled by an operator or local ground-handler will not be affected: they need to be met by a ground-handler because that’s who will get the visas for them at the airport.”

She was adamant there would be no major impact for trade business from the UK.

Andy Tomlinson, director of Sutton Travel in Sutton Coldfield, said more travellers could even be encouraged to book via the trade.

He said: “It could work in favour of operators and agents. But it is still up in the air in terms of who needs it [a visa in advance].

“I was worried about DIY packages we put together ourselves, but our clients are met on arrival by a ground-handler.”

Discover Egypt director Philip Breckner said: “As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t affect our customers, but it is confusing.”

Visas are not required for UK visitors travelling to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba for up to 15 days, and there was no indication this would change.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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Dubai eases visa restrictions for all Europeans

Dubai eases visa restrictions for all EuropeansBy Phil Davies,

Dubai’s popularity with European tourists is to be boosted by an exemption to travellers from a further 13 countries from requiring pre-entry visas.

People from the other 15 European member states, including the UK, are already exempt.

The announcement by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs means that all citizens of the European Union holding an ordinary passport will be allowed to enter the UAE without having to previously apply for a visa from March 22.

The 13 countries that come under the new exemption are: Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Dubai’s top 20 visitor source markets in 2013 included five European Union countries, each of which were already exempt from requiring pre-arrival visas: the UK (ranked 3rd), Germany (7th), France (14th), Italy (17th) and Holland (20th).

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “This is a very positive announcement from the UAE ministry of foreign affairs and one which will have a significant impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for tourists from the 13 countries included today in the exemption.

“With regards to business visitors, the exemption for citizens of all European member states further enhances Dubai’s status as the meeting point for Europe to host and conduct business with the partners from across the MENASA supra-region.

“European countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets for visitors, with more than 2.8 million Europeans staying in our hotels during 2013.

“The lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel arrangements from across the continent so it is no surprise that the news has been received extremely positively.”

The easing of visa restrictions combines with continual expansion of airline route networks and the opening of a second international airport, to ensure that Dubai is ever more accessible and connected to the world, he added.

Dubai’s tourism vision for 2020 sets out how the city will double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020.

Sourced by Travel Weekly


Turkey to halt visa on arrival

TurkeyUK travellers heading to Turkey will not be able to get a visa on arrival from April 2014.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for the country to say that from 10 April 2014 air travellers will have to get an e-visa online before they travel.

Passengers travelling up the mentioned date will still be able to purchase a visa for GBP10 in cash when they arrive in the country.

Cruise ship passengers will not need to obtain a visa if they embark and return to the ship on the same day.

Turkey visas are valid for multiple stays up to a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.

Sourced by Travel Daily UK


EU probes mastercard fees for foreigners in Europe

By Sophie Griffiths

The European Commission is investigating Mastercard over fees charged for card transactions made by tourists visiting Europe.

The Commission reportedly said that a number of the firm’s “inter-bank fees and related practices may be anti-competitive”, the BBC.

Visa is also being investigated by the Commission over similar practices.

If found guilty Mastercard, which has said it would “fully co-operate” with regulators, could be fined up to $740 million or 10% of its 2012 revenue.

The credit card firm has insisted that it always aimed “to balance the interests of both consumers and retailers”.

The investigation will examine payments made by people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) – the EU’s 27-member states as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland – who use their credit and debit cards when inside the area.

The EU has said the main principle of its probe was to ensure that consumers were not harmed.

“When a US tourist uses a Mastercard to make a purchase in [the European Economic Area], these fees can be quite high, generally much higher than those paid in Europe,” European Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said.

A similar probe in 2007 led to the Commission banning Mastercard from charging cross-border fees within the European Economic Area, the BBC said.

Sourced from TTG Digital


India snubs Britain in visa change

By Sophie Griffiths

India is reportedly excluding British holidaymakers from a scheme to allow certain European tourists to purchase visas on arrival.

Germany, France, Spain, Poland and Russia are all named on the list of nationalities expected to be granted visas once they arrive in India, but there is no suggestion that the Indian government is planning to extend the privilege to British traveler, the Sunday Times said.

The snub comes despite David Cameron’s attempts to foster closer relationships with the country while on a tour in February.

The 800,000 Britons who on average, travel to the country each year are instead forced to complete a complicated postal application, which can take some 10 days to process.

Last year, the UK implemented tighter visa regulations for Indians travelling to Britain, which resulted in an 18% drop in visitors.

In response, India increased the cost of visas for Britons, from £38 to £82, while the processing fee rose by £1, to £10.20.

The Sunday Times quoted the Indian High Commission as stating that the granting of ”visa on arrival for British nationals will perhaps entail a similar facility for Indian nationals.”

Sourced from TTG Digital