GCC unanimously approves Schengen-style ‘Unified Gulf visa’

Omani city Sur named Arab Capital of Tourism in 2024
2023-10-09
/
/ New Delhi
GCC Gulf Visa
GCC unanimously approves Schengen-style ‘Unified Gulf visa’

In addition to this important milestone, the summit saw the proposal to name Omani city Sur the Arab Capital of Tourism in 2024 unanimously approved

Among the several initiatives taken to bolster tourism in the Gulf countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has now unanimously approved a Schengen-style 'Unified Gulf visa', to be further discussed at the upcoming regional interior ministers' conference in Muscat in November.
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Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism, has announced the unanimous approval of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) common or Unified Gulf visa, the implementation of which will commence soon, post completion of all necessary formalities.

The ministry made this declaration in a recently held regional ministers’ meeting in Manah, Oman.

According to the ministry, the visa, similar to Schengen-style visa for tourists, is set to further bolster economic growth of the region. The proposed common tourist visa will be discussed at the upcoming regional interior ministers’ conference in Muscat in November. 

The statement says that in addition to this important milestone, the summit saw the proposal to name Omani city Sur the Arab Capital of Tourism in 2024 unanimously approved. It adds that Sur, a charming seaside town, will hold a number of activities all year long to draw tourists from the Gulf.

Salim Mohammed al Mahrouqi

Salim Mohammed al Mahrouqi

“The common tourism visa for the Gulf Cooperation Council is coming very soon. There is unanimous agreement, in terms of the importance of this matter. There will be a number of follow-up meetings to see how we can proceed on this to reach a full agreement on it,” said Salim Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Oman minister of heritage and tourism, as the sultanate chaired the seventh meeting of GCC ministers of tourism.

According to the statement, GCC Tourism Strategy aims for ambitious growth to increase tourist numbers by 7 pc annually till 2030. It includes enhancing inbound tourist spending by 8 pc and domestic tourist expenditure by 2.4 pc in this period. An essential goal is to bolster the direct GDP by 7 pc annually until 2030.

Ahmed Aqeel al Khatib

Ahmed Aqeel al Khatib

“We’re considering establishing a unified Gulf statistics centre and a common tourist visa system. With coordinated efforts, the GCC is poised to capture a significant share of the global travel market,” says Ahmed Aqeel al Khatib, Saudi Minister of Tourism. 

Jassim Mohammed al Budaiwi

Jassim Mohammed al Budaiwi

“It is emerging as a robust economic and social sector, capable of steering sustainable development,” says Jassim Mohammed al Budaiwi, GCC Secretary-General. Currently 17 landmarks from GCC states are currently listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, he added.

The statement adds that the unified visa is viewed as the initial step towards integrating GCC markets to bolster economic growth and create job opportunities for the citizens of member nations. Earlier discussions during the meeting covered various topics, including the Gulf Tourism Strategy, the unified Gulf tourist visa and the establishment of a common tourism platform.

Prior to the summit, Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, had stressed how the meeting would help the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ tourist potential. This is consistent with the studies that were accepted in the meeting in Al Ula, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 2022.

In order to make the Arabian Gulf region a competitive and sought-after tourism destination globally, Al Busaidi also emphasised the significance of creating an executive structure to ensure the successful implementation of the initiatives agreed upon. 

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