Gulf News

Gulf Cooperation Council Approves Unified Tourist Visa for GCC Countries

The tourism ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries greenlit a unified Gulf tourist visa during their seventh meeting in Oman, according to Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, the Minister of Economy. The next steps involve discussions on implementation procedures, slated for the next month among GCC Interior Ministers, before final approval at the upcoming Gulf Summit. The unified Gulf tourist visa is anticipated to be operational between 2024 and 2025, contingent on individual GCC countries’ internal regulations.

This visa will grant holders access to six GCC nations, with the aim of enticing and retaining tourists within the region to bolster economic integration. Furthermore, plans are underway for a unified Gulf tourist route, which will be followed by foreign visitors with stays exceeding 30 days after the visa’s implementation. The Emirates Tourism Council is actively developing an Emirati tourism route connecting the seven emirates in preparation for the Gulf connection.

This initiative aligns with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s 2030 strategy, aiming to elevate the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP. The UAE’s tourism sector currently constitutes 14 percent of its GDP, with aspirations to increase this figure to 18 percent in line with strategic tourism objectives.

Al Marri emphasized the GCC’s advanced and well-established infrastructure in the travel and tourism sectors. As of the end of 2022, the region boasted a total of 10,649 hotel establishments, with the UAE ranking second after Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the cumulative number of rooms in hotel establishments throughout the GCC reached 674,832.

The joint Gulf tourism strategy ‘2023-2030’ targets an annual 7.0 percent rise in inbound flights to GCC countries, with the objective of reaching 128.7 million visitors by 2030. The countries also aim to escalate spending by incoming tourists at an annual growth rate of 8.0 percent, striving for $188 billion by 2030. The direct GDP of the travel and tourism sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 7 percent, contributing a total added value of $185.9 billion in 2023, reflecting an 8.5 percent surge from 2022.

Collectively, the GCC nations offer 837 tourist sites, with the UAE taking the lead with 399 tourist sites and hosting 73 of the total 224 Gulf tourism events and activities.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button