The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations have taken a significant step towards the introduction of a unified tourist visa, similar to the Schengen visa.
This would allow tourists to travel seamlessly across all six GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) with a single visa.
This streamlines the process and eliminates the necessity for tourists to obtain separate visas for each country they intend to visit.
TheTimes learns that this marks a significant advancement for the tourism industry in the region, simplifying and enhancing the experience for travelers who wish to visit several GCC countries in a single trip.
During a meeting in Muscat, Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism, Salim bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, announced the approval of the unified visa by the GCC ministers.
Benefits of the unified visa
The unified GCC visa is poised to have a positive impact on regional tourism in several key ways.
Firstly, it simplifies the process for tourists looking to visit multiple GCC countries during a single trip. This convenience is likely to attract more long-haul tourists to the region, removing the burden of obtaining multiple visas.
Secondly, the unified GCC visa is anticipated to extend the duration of tourists’ stays in the region. With the freedom to visit multiple countries without visa concerns, tourists are expected to increase their spending, as they’ll have more time to explore the region and enjoy its various attractions.
The specific release date for the unified GCC visa remains undisclosed.
Nevertheless, Omani media cited Minister Salim bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, who mentioned that the initiative will be introduced “shortly.” It is anticipated that the visa will be officially unveiled during a gathering of regional interior ministers scheduled for November 2023.
Upon its implementation, the unified GCC visa initiative might lead to joint promotional campaigns by GCC countries to boost tourism in the region. Authorities have also discussed the potential for a shared booking platform and a collaborative tourism website.
The pricing, duration, and eligibility criteria of the unified GCC visa however remain undisclosed. However, further information regarding it is anticipated to be disclosed by the end of the year.