Single Toursim Visa For Kuwait , Saudi Arabia, Uae, Bahrain, Qatar And Oman

10 October 2023 Middle East News

To promote economic growth across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), plans are underway to introduce a Unified Gulf visa system similar to the Schengen visa aimed at tourists. According to Oman's Minister of Tourism, this initiative will simplify travel to GCC member states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. Travelers will soon be able to visit multiple countries within the region with just one visa.

Several GCC ministers of tourism have unanimously approved the proposal for a unified Gulf visa, and they have requested feedback by December. Salim Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Oman's Minister of Heritage and Tourism, spoke enthusiastically about this development during the seventh meeting of GCC tourism ministers.

Minister al Mahrouqi said, "The common tourism visa for the Gulf Cooperation Council will arrive very soon," emphasizing the importance of the initiative. He expressed confidence in the forthcoming discussions that will lead to a comprehensive agreement on the unified visa.

During the meeting, the primary objective was to enhance cooperation and promote tourism development within the GCC. Minister al Mahrouqi emphasized the broader goals, saying, “We aim to uplift the GCC’s tourism status, enrich our national economies, and meet our people’s aspirations.”

As part of the meeting, a platform for tourism statistics within the GCC was also discussed. Notably, the ministers approved the Gulf Strategy for Tourism 2023-2030, underscoring their commitment to implementing this strategy effectively through regular progress reports.

Tourism plays a vital role in sustainable development in the Gulf peninsula, according to Jassim Mohammed al Budaiwi, GCC Secretary-General. He highlighted the presence of 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites across GCC states.

Al Budaiwi shared encouraging statistics revealing that 39.8 million tourists visited the GCC in 2022, an increase of 136.6% over the previous year. Tourist spending also surged to USD 85.9 billion, representing a growth of 101.2%. Intra-GCC tourism constituted 29.7% of the total tourist numbers, marking a 98.8% increase compared to 2021.

Until 2030, the GCC Tourism Strategy aims to increase tourist arrivals by 7% annually. The strategy aims to boost inbound tourist spending by 8% and domestic tourist expenditure by 2.4% during this period, with a key objective being a 7% annual increase in direct GDP until 2030.

The Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Aqeel al-Khatib, stressed the importance of a joint vision, saying, "We are considering establishing a unified Gulf statistics center. With coordinated efforts, the GCC is poised to capture a significant share of the global travel market.”

The meeting was concluded by a proposal titled "Our Gulf, the Birthplace of Civilizations," with member states expected to finalize their contributions by the end of 2023.

 

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