Call for unified GCC wide visa as Oman tourism seen gaining

Call for unified GCC wide visa as Oman tourism seen gaining

Muscat: As Oman increases its tourist visa charges to OMR20, a new report has suggested that all GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries should issue unified visas, similar to the Schengen programme adopted by the European nations, to ease travel plans.

According to a new Colliers International report, this could boost the region’s tourist arrivals from India and China.

Recently, Oman had made it easier for tourists from Iran, India, China and Russia to visit the country with a new e-visa framework.

“Oman’s strong growth in tourism by differentiating itself as a unique tourism hub, and being home to many eco, cultural and heritage attractions, including four UNESCO world heritage sites, has made the country a popular destination for Indian and Chinese travellers,” the Colliers International report said.

Welcoming the idea of multi-entry visas in the GCC countries, travel agents working in Oman said easing the visa system will increase the flow of tourists from all over the world.

“Indians and Chinese are travelling a lot so they will definitely take advantage of GCC multi entry visas if they are introduced,” said Kabir Ahmed of Kabir Travel and Tourism in Ruwi High Street.

“The unified visa will help boost tourism activities in the region. Oman will especially benefit from the unified and simplified visa procedures as people from other GCC countries are keen to visit Oman because it’s quite different from others,” Emad Bachchu, another travel agent, said.

Creating a common visa that makes it easier for people to travel between all six Gulf countries is not new. In fact, the GCC countries have been studying this possibility for years. In addition to establishing a Schengen-type visa, the Colliers report suggested that GCC governments should also launch cultural exchange programmes, introduce visa-on-arrival for Indian and Chinese travellers, and offer special shopping discounts to them.

International assessed the compatibility of key GCC destinations with four traveller types: corporate, MICE attendees, leisure first-timers and experienced leisure travellers, for both Indian and Chinese visitors.

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