Unified GCC tourist Visa in the works

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A Unified GCC Tourist Visa could soon become a reality.

Gulf Cooperation Coucil (GCC) Flag
Official flag of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Flag

A senior government official has revealed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are aggressively working towards introducing a unified tourist Visa for the region.

Abdullah Al-Shobaily; “The GCC is currently striving to set up a computer system to exchange data in order to facilitate the issuance of a unified tourist Visa for the entire region. Hammering out an agreement between the six GCC member states requires the completion of several technical and other formalities, including the installation of an information exchange system between government departments in the member states.” — Abdullah Al-Shobaily, assistant secretary-general for economic affairs for the GCC

If all goes according to plan, the Visa facility for the entire region could be available as early as 2014. However, the committee has not set any deadline for the implementation of a single Visa regime for the region. The single Visa has been actively discussed on different government forums as a way to boost tourism and the regional economy within the GCC. By simplifying procedures for tourists within the six-member nations, the region is expected to attract a larger number of visitors.

Tourism and hospitality remain an important source of income for the GCC countries, which are trying hard to reduce their reliance on income earned through hydrocarbon exports. The UAE leads all other GCC states in tourism, with the Emirati authorities confident of attracting even greater number of tourists in the coming years. The Vision 2020 clearly outlines how Dubai will double the number of annual visitors from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020, thereby tripling the economic contribution of the tourism sector.

The single Visa project is part of efforts by GCC states to promote regional integration. The countries are in the final stages of introducing unified GCC laws against commercial fraud and consumer protection, and the Gulf Customs Union is scheduled to be launched in 2015 to counter the sale of counterfeit goods within the GCC.

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