In a significant development for tourism in the GCC region, the UAE Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri, has disclosed plans to introduce a unified Gulf tourist visa within the next two years. This visa will grant travelers access to all six GCC countries.

The decision to launch this unified visa was unanimously agreed upon during the seventh meeting of GCC tourism ministers, which took place in Oman earlier this month. While the specifics and legislation for this initiative are yet to be finalized, the expected implementation timeframe is set between 2024 and 2025, contingent on the readiness of each GCC member state’s internal systems.

Minister Al-Marri has also revealed that the UAE is gearing up to welcome international tourists in the wake of the unified visa’s introduction. Simultaneously, the UAE is diligently crafting a tourism route connecting its seven emirates.

Emphasizing the broader vision, Minister Al-Marri told Emirates News Agency (WAM), “This initiative is an integral component of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy, aimed at increasing the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP by fostering inter-GCC travel and bolstering hotel occupancy rates, thereby positioning the GCC as a premier global destination for both regional and international tourists.”

Currently, the tourism sector contributes 14 percent to the UAE’s GDP, and the goal is to elevate this figure to 18 percent, aligning with the nation’s strategic tourism objectives.

Furthermore, the GCC countries’ joint tourism strategy for the period 2023-2030 targets an annual increase of 7 percent in inbound travel to the region. Notably, the number of visitors to GCC countries surged to 39.8 million in the previous year, marking a remarkable 136.6 percent increase over 2021.

With a single visa, tourists will gain the opportunity to explore the six-member Gulf bloc, which includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. According to Minister Al-Marri, the visa is on track for implementation in 2024 or 2025, pending the finalization of regulations and procedures.

This forward-looking step mirrors the aspirations of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s 2030 strategy, which seeks to heighten the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP.

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