Gulf states unanimously approve implementation of ‘unified tourist visa’ by 2025

Gulf states unanimously approve implementation of ‘unified tourist visa’ by 2025

QLNews
By QLNews

The six GCC countries ­— Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar — have unanimously approved the proposal for a unified tourism visa system for the region during the 40th meeting of GCC interior ministers in Oman on Wednesday.

The proposal is considered a game-changer and is expected to usher in a new era in the tourism and economic sectors.

The system, which is expected to be implemented between 2024 and 2025 across the six nations, was unveiled by GCC Secretary General Jassim Al Budaiwi in Oman.

The decision will streamline travel logistics and underpin the ‘continuous communication and coordination’ between GCC states.

“The unified Gulf tourist visa is a project that’ll contribute to facilitating and streamlining the movement of residents and tourists between the six GCC countries and will, undoubtedly, have a positive impact on the economic and tourist sectors,” Al Budaiwi was quoted as saying.

The council also approved the electronic linking of traffic offences between GCC states and is preparing a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal drugs, which aims to ‘contribute to the fight against its scourge,’ said Al Budaiwi.

The unified Gulf visa is a major element of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy. It will help increase the sector’s economic contribution through increased regional travel and higher hotel occupancy rates.

The strategy hopes to raise the number of visitors to the six GCC countries to 128.7m by 2030. It was 39.8m last year, which was an increase of about 137%  compared to 2021.

The total number of hotels in the region stood at 10,649 by the end of 2022, recording a growth of 1.2% compared to 2016.

The Middle East’s tourism sector has recorded the strongest post-coronavirus rebound in the world, despite persistent global economic headwinds, according to HSBC.

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