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GCC tourism ministers set deadline on unified visa

Oman News Agency
Officials at the seventh meeting of GCC ministers of tourism in Oman

GCC tourism ministers have agreed to submit their views on a proposed unified visa for the six members states to the GCC Secretariat General by the end of December 2023, state-run Oman News Agency reported.

The ministers also endorsed the Gulf strategy for tourism 2023-2030 at the recently held seventh meeting of GCC tourism ministers.

GCC secretary general Jassim Mohammed Al Budaiwi stated that the tourism sector is one of the most promising economic and social sectors among the group. It is a key factor in helping the six members, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, to diversify their economies.

The total number of GCC inbound visitors stood at 39.8 million in 2022, surging 136.6 percent year on year.

Spending by tourists who visited the GCC states increased to $85.9 billion last year, rising 101.2 percent from 2021.

Intra-GCC tourism, as a ratio of overall international tourists, constituted 29.7 percent, with a growth rate of 98.8 percent in 2022 year on year.

The GCC tourism strategy aims to increase the number of inbound visits by seven percent annually until 2030. Likewise, it seeks to augment the spending of GCC inbound and domestic tourists by eight percent and 2.4 percent until 2030.

The higher spending will increase direct gross domestic product (GDP) by seven percent until 2030.

Ahmed Al-Khatib, Saudi minister of tourism, disclosed that the discussion involved the establishment of a centre for unified Gulf statistics.

He added that GCC states are undergoing rapid growth and will attract a good portion of the global travel market through joint action and ongoing coordination.

The ministers also discussed setting up a GCC tourism statistics platform. In addition, the countries will provide the general secretariat with their proposals on an initiative named “Our Gulf, the Birthplace of Civilizations”.

Proposals were expected to be finalised before December-end, the news agency said.