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Single GCC tourism visa will boost visitor numbers — study

Move to help reinvigorate sector and boost economic growth

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:45 November 18, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama: A single Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entry visa will help boost the number of tourists in the region and will reinvigorate tourism as a sector, a study submitted to GCC officials has found.

“A study has been submitted to the Gulf Cooperation Council on adopting a single tourism visa,” Abdul Raheem Hassan Naqi, the secretary general of the of the GCC chambers unions, said. “The move will reinvigorate the tourism sector amid expectations that the GCC countries will invest around $380 billion [Dh1.395 billion] in tourism projects by 2018,” he said in remarks published by Saudi daily Al Eqtisadiya on Sunday.

The study covers all aspects of the single visa and calls for allowing a tourist planning to visit one of the six GCC member states to move smoothly to other countries as well, he said.

“The GCC have the capabilities to implement the visa recommendations and the fact that $380 billion will be invested in tourism and related sectors should be an outstanding stimulus for other ministries and government agencies,” he said. “We understand the specificities of some countries, but we look at the overall benefits of Gulf tourism and its economic contributions to each of the member states. Tourism does remain a significant factor for local economies and employment and all efforts should be channelled into doing away with complications and attracting visitors.”

Al Naqi said the forthcoming tourism and investment conference in Fujairah on November 20-21 would be a good opportunity to discuss the ambitions of the private sector towards tourism in the Gulf countries. The GCC, founded in 1981 in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud last year called for the move from the phase on cooperation to the phase of union within a single entity. The GCC leaders will hold their next annual summit in Manama in December.

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