GCC countries considering 'Schengen-style' visa to boost tourism in the region
The UAE tourism sector will likely get a boost as the GCC countries are considering launching a “Schengen-style” visa system.
The statement was made by Fatima Al Sairafi, Bahrain Minister of Tourism, at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
The minister highlighted that the new visa system will facilitate all partner countries with one entry visa procedure.
Fatima said during a panel discussion on “The Future of Travel for the GCC, “We have a huge opportunity, the effort is in how to unify all the countries in the GCC.”
Bahrain benefitted in tourism sector after partnering with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Fatima said we had 9.9 million visitors in 2022. “If all the GCC countries unified their efforts in promotion, the opportunities would be incredible,” the minister added.
Fatima highlighted people go to Europe for vacations and visit several countries instead of one on a single visa, adding that such a system will not only benefit a single country but the entire region.
It is evident that GCC countries benefited from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as fans were put up in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.
These countries’ airlines operated several flights daily to and from Qatar for the matches.
The UAE is already running a visa free entry for GCC nationals.
The UAE authorities said, “Citizens of the GCC countries do not need an entry visa or sponsor to visit the UAE, as they can enter the country by presenting a passport issued by one of the GCC countries, or an identity card, upon arrival at one of the entry points.”
Fatima said now we just need a unified system to allow all countries to operate in similar way.
According to a recent survey, over 3 million people visited the region during the World Cup.