Giza’s pyramids are such impressive feats of ancient engineering that even today, scientists are unsure how they were built. Image Credit: Pexels/Murat Sahin

Cairo: Egypt has expanded granting electronic visas to citizens of 180 foreign nationalities in an effort to shore up the vital Egyptian tourism that has suffered due to fallout from COVID-19 and the current Ukraine-Russia crisis, local media reported.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khalid Al Enani announced the increase in availability of e-visas as part of unprecedented facilities for foreign tourists. Last July, Egypt increased availability of this type of visa to citizens of 74 nationalities.

Addressing a symposium in Cairo on Wednesday, the minister said that the government would allow citizens of 180 nationalities, including holders of valid UK, US, Schengen, Canada, Australia and Japan visas to get e-visas. The step is part of state efforts to lure more tourists to Egypt by facilitating procedures to obtain the tourism visa, Egyptian online newspaper Al Youm Al Saba quoted him as saying.

The official also told a government tourism committee that his ministry is seeking to open up new markets for Egyptian tourism and offering facilities for foreign visitors to Egypt.

As part of the new facilities, citizens of South Africa, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan arriving in Egypt for the first time will be granted emergency entry visas at arrival points and also allowed to get e-visas, the Ministry of Tourism said.

Names of other countries were not immediately available.

Upon the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in late February, Egypt extended the accommodation of the stranded Ukrainian tourists at hotels at the expense of the Egyptian government and exempted them and the Russians of fines related to expiry of their visas.

Russia and Ukraine used to be major markets for Egypt's tourism, which is a main source of national income. Last year, the industry showed signs of recovery from repercussions of the global pandemic.