Sun, 19 May 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

1 visa, 6 countries: Unified GCC entry permit to boost business-leisure travel

Update : 15 May 2024, 15:08

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has introduced a Schengen visa equivalent, a new comprehensive tourist visa named "GCC Grand Tours," enabling travellers to explore all six Gulf nations and extend their stay for more than 30 days. This initiative aims to enhance tourism and simplify travel within the GCC region.

Comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, the GCC, also known as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, has launched the GCC Grand Tours visa with the objective of attracting a larger number of tourists by facilitating visits to multiple countries in the region, akin to the Schengen visa of the European Union. 

This unified visa is anticipated to significantly boost the tourism industry in the Gulf and increase the influx of hotel guests, ultimately positioning the region as a premier destination for both regional and international tourists.

United Arab Emirates Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, made the announcement following a panel discussion featuring prominent figures from diverse GCC tourism authorities.

The idea of a unified GCC tourist visa has been in progress since October last year, receiving unanimous approval from the GCC states. The aim is to stimulate economic development in the region by simplifying tourist travel. Salem bin Mohammed Al Mahrooq, Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism, confirmed that feedback on the unified visa plan was requested by December 2023.  

In April, UAE Minister of Economy Marri emphasised the importance of the unified visa in attracting international tourists and talked about its potential to showcase the region's diverse tourist attractions.

Authorities in the UAE project that the unified GCC tourist visa could lead to a record number of visitors, with estimates suggesting a total of 128.7 million visitors by 2030. This surge in tourism is anticipated to have a substantial impact on the regional economy, creating fresh opportunities for business and cultural exchange, while also elevating the GCC's stature as a top-tier travel destination. 

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