Israeli travel agencies offering vacation packages to Egypt find themselves helpless due to the African nation's wholesale rejection of Israeli visa applications at the peak of vacation season.
Adding insult to injury, EgyptAir, which operates the only fly route between the two countries, is refusing to issue refunds to customers who have had their visa requests rejected for the tickets they purchased, taking some of them as much as $500 back.
The Egyptian state-owned flag carrier announced in October that it is expected to fly a route between Tel Aviv and Cairo four times a week.
Hundreds of Israelis travel to Egypt every week, most of them on organized group trips.
Sources say that the great number of visa refusals is a direct order from the Egyptian Interior Ministry, with no reason provided for the rejections.
"This is a syndrome that we have seen in the past after the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem. This phenomenon is now back and all tour operators are seeing a rejection rate of about 90% to Egypt at the beginning of the short winter tourist season," a trip organizer said.
Another booking company blamed mounting visa refusals on some Egyptian officials' lack of support of Israeli tourism into the country, with Israeli Arabs' visa applications reportedly denied at a much higher rate compared to their Jewish compatriot.
EgyptAir, the Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian Embassy in Israel have yet to comment.