Canadian passport holders soon will no longer be able to obtain visas upon arrival in Egypt — a new rule that could mean additional headaches for thousands of travellers.
As of Oct. 1, Canadians travelling to Egypt will have to visit Egypt's embassy or a consulate in Canada to apply for a visa before they leave the country, according to Global Affairs Canada's travel page for Egypt.
Previously, travellers could get their visas upon arrival at the airport in Cairo, or obtain an e-visa before departure through the online portal.
The changes initially were set to take effect this Sunday. However, after CBC News published a story about the new rules, Global Affairs Canada issued a statement saying the new visa requirements would take effect Oct. 1.
Canadians with proof of Egyptian citizenship also will have to apply for visas to enter the country as of Oct. 1. Prior to this rule change, Canadians could enter the country without visas if they had Egyptian passports, national ID cards or birth certificates.
An email from the Egyptian embassy in Ottawa laid out the visa application process for Egyptian nationals.
The announcement, sent to Egyptian-Canadians on Monday, cited the "principle of reciprocity" and claimed the rule change is 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."
Officials at the Egyptian embassy declined to comment when reached by CBC News. CBC has also reached out to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly's office for comment.
Adel Boulos, president of the Egyptian Canadian Business Network, says it's not easy for Egyptians to get a visa to come to Canada.
"It's getting more difficult for Egyptians to come to Canada," he said. "I have cases, unbelievable stuff like parents wanting to see their children, people are getting married here and they want their parents and family to come and they can't … It's insane."
But Boulos said the Egyptian government had other options to deal with the situation.
"I would have liked the Egyptian government to take another route by convening a meeting with the Canadian officials to discuss how to help them out in issuing visas faster," he said.
And unanswered questions remain about the visa application process for Egyptian nationals in Canada, he said.
"We have about 300,000 Egyptians living in Canada and most of them travel with their Canadian passports because they didn't renew their Egyptian passports or don't have the national ID," Boulos said.
"People travelling with their Canadian passport because their Egyptian passport is expired, they don't have one, whatever the issue is, they will also be required to get a visa."
Egyptians celebrate in Tahrir Square upon hearing the news of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. ( John Moore/Getty Images)
Egypt has tried to encourage tourism in recent years. Tourist numbers plummeted following the violent suppression of anti-government demonstrations in 2011.
Egypt is on track to welcome a record-breaking 15 million tourists this year, the country's tourism minister said in April. The country aims to attract 30 million tourists annually by 2028.
Some Egyptian media outlets claimed the news of the stricter visa rules was untrue.
A story in the Egypt Independent, a Cairo-based online newspaper, claimed that the Egyptian cabinet media centre "denied these rumours and added that the centre communicated with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to confirm the matter was false."
But a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada confirmed the new rules for Canadian passport holders would take effect.