The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations are in discussions to introduce a common visa for tourists, similar to the Schengen Visa issued to travellers heading to Europe. This move is expected to boost the travel sector in the region.
How Does the Common GCC Tourist Visa Work?
The common visa proposed for tourists in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is likely to operate in a similar manner to the Schengen visa in Europe. The Schengen visa enables visitors to travel to 26 European countries without requiring multiple visas.
Similarly, the common GCC tourist visa will allow tourists to explore all GCC countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, with the convenience of a single visa.
Details revealed at Arabian Travel Market
The discussions were revealed by Fatima Al Sairafi, the tourism minister of Bahrain, at the Arabian Travel Market.
She stated that the Schengen Visa was convenient for people travelling to Europe, allowing them to visit several European countries with a single visa, and each of these nations benefited from the facility. The GCC nations’ rulers felt this was a good arrangement they could emulate.
Enhancing Regional Brand Value and Development
According to the minister, a common visa would help enhance the brand value of all GCC nations and lead to the comprehensive development of the region.
Bahrain benefited from carrying out tourism publicity campaigns jointly with UAE and Saudi Arabia, which led to more visitors from more countries reaching Bahrain. The actual number of visitors in 2022 was 9.9 million, higher than the anticipated 8.3 million.
Support from UAE and Saudi Arabia
UAE’s under-secretary in the finance ministry, Abdullah Al Saleh, supported the stand of the Bahrain minister and said that a common visa would help travellers visit more countries without hassles.
According to Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahad Hamidaddin, it is proposed to consider the entire GCC area as a single region instead of separate countries for tourism purposes.
“The GCC member countries have to enhance their cooperation to meet this goal,” he said.
Joint publicity campaigns and a single brand named ‘GCC Tourism’
Under the latest plan of the GCC countries, joint publicity campaigns, common tourism applications, a single website for tourism, and an online booking platform would be implemented. Moreover, GCC nations would attend various tourism fares around the world under a single brand named ‘GCC Tourism.’
In conclusion, the introduction of a common visa for tourists in the GCC nations will benefit the region and enhance the brand value of all GCC nations. It is also expected to lead to comprehensive development of the region and attract more visitors.