Abu Dhabi: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are set to introduce a unified Gulf tourist visa within the next two years. The latest move will allow visa holders to travel across the six Gulf countries.
Mr. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, commented that the seventh meeting of GCC tourism ministers in Oman has unanimously approved its rollout to be presented at the upcoming GCC summit.
In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), the minister noted that specific regulations and legislation for the visa will be made, with a targeted rollout between 2024 and 2025, depending on the readiness of each GCC country’s internal systems.
The new visa will open doors to travelers, granting them access to six countries under a single, unified tourist visa, leading to economic synergy across the Gulf region.
Mr. Al Marri noted that the UAE is getting ready to welcome the new flow of international tourists with the introduction of the unified visa. According to the statement, the Emirates Tourism Council has formulated a tourist route within the UAE that interconnects its seven emirates.
“This initiative is an integral part of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy, designed to elevate the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP through increased inter-GCC travel and elevated hotel occupancy rates, transforming the GCC into a preeminent global destination for both regional and international tourists,” the UAE Minister added.
As of the end of 2022, the GCC reported a total of 10,649 hotel establishments, marking 1.2 percent growth compared to 2016. Within the GCC, the UAE alone boasts 1,114 hotel establishments, ranking second in the GCC after Saudi Arabia. The total number of hotel rooms in the GCC reached 674,832, with a 0.4 percent growth.
Mr. Al Marri further stated that the GCC joint tourism strategy “2023-2030” targets an annual increase of 7 percent in inbound trips to GCC countries. The number of visitors to GCC countries reached 39.8 million last year, showing 136.6 percent growth compared to 2021, with a target of reaching 128.7 million visitors by 2030.