Passports and visas are required of foreign visitors except nationals of certain Middle Eastern countries. However, transit passengers by ship or plane need no visas. Tourists arriving from many African countries must have proof of cholera and yellow fever vaccination.
Tourism has been a major foreign exchange earner. It grew steadily after the end of the Iran-Iraq war. In 2000, there were 5,506,179 foreign visitor arrivals, with more than 3,800,000 from European countries, and tourism receipts totaled over $4.3 billion. That year there were 113,611 rooms in hotels and other facilities, with 227,222 beds and a 73% occupancy rate. Principal tourist attractions include the pyramids and Great Sphinx at Giza, the Abu Simbel temples south of Aswan, the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, and the Muhammad 'Ali Mosque in Cairo. Rides are available on fellucas , traditional sailing boats of the Nile. Popular pastimes among Egyptians include card playing, moviegoing, and sports such as soccer, swimming, tennis, and horse racing.
In 2002, the US government estimated the daily cost of staying in Cairo at about $167, depending upon the choice of hotel. Expenses in Aswan and Alexandria are about the same.