Gulf states agree on a single tourist visa at all

  • Nov. 7, 2023
Gulf states agree on a single tourist visa at all

An important new chapter in the region's tourist industry has begun with the GCC governments' unanimous approval of the planned unified tourism visa scheme.

Announcing the system at the 40th meeting of GCC interior ministers in Oman, GCC Secretary General Jassim Al Budaiwi stated that it is anticipated to go into effect across the six-nation bloc between 2024 and 2025.

According to him, the decision supports "continuous communication and coordination" between the GCC states and is anticipated to simplify travel logistics."The unified Gulf tourist visa is a project that will undoubtedly have a positive [impact] on the tourism and economic sectors and will help to facilitate and streamline the movement of residents and tourists between the six GCC countries," Mr. Al Budaiwi stated.

In order to "contribute to the fight against [its] scourge," Mr. Al Budaiwi stated, the council has also approved the electronic connection of traffic offenses between GCC states and is currently developing a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal narcotics.

The UAE Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq, stated last month that the unified visa is a key component of the GCC 2030 tourism plan, which aims to boost the sector's economic contribution through more regional travel and higher hotel occupancy rates.

By 2030, the plan aims to increase the number of tourists to the bloc to 128.7 million. That represents an increase from 39.8 million in the previous year, or almost 137% more than in 2021.

At the end of the previous year, there were 10,649 hotels in the region, an increase of 1.2% over the previous year.

According to Mr. bin Touq, the UAE alone has 1,114 hotels, which puts it second in the region behind Saudi Arabia.

Despite ongoing challenges to the global economy, the Middle East's tourism industry has experienced the strongest post-coronavirus recovery globally, according to HSBC.

The region, which is home to the two largest Arab economies—Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—is exceptional in that it saw a “complete recovery” in visitor arrivals during the first quarter of 2023, according to a research paper released by the bank in August.

Industry insiders predict that the new program will revolutionize the industry in the area.

According to them, there is an unexplored market for tourism in the GCC bloc, as many potential travelers are deterred by visa requirements that make visiting certain countries challenging.

According to Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, a single GCC tourist visa will be a "fantastic development" for the region's tourism industry, increasing its appeal to travelers and businesses. He made this statement to The National last week.

It's one of those travel essentials that works better together than separately. The growth of tourism in other Middle Eastern nations will draw more visitors and boost the region's economy, he claimed.Global perception of the Middle East is positively correlated with the number of cities on the tourism map, according to Mr. Griffiths.