UAE minister Al Marri-1695887574020
Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri Image Credit: Gulf News File

Abu Dhabi: The issuance of a unified tourist visas for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will happen “soon”, the UAE Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, has revealed.

Al Marri said during the first session of the second day of the Future of Hospitality Summit within the activities of Abu Dhabi Travel and Tourism Week that the new unified visa system would allow tourists to visit several Gulf countries, a move expected to greatly contribute to the GCC countries’ attractiveness to tourists from all over the world.

The idea of single Schengen-type tourist visa for Gulf countries has been proposed earlier in a move aimed to help further boost visitor numbers to the bloc.

Supporting tourism in any GCC country is considered supporting tourism in all GCC countries.

- Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy

This comes within the framework of integrating tourism strategies among the GCC countries. Al Marri said: “Supporting tourism in any GCC country is considered supporting tourism in all GCC countries.”

International tourists

The Minister said that about 70 per cent of visitors in the Emirates comes from international tourists coming from outside the country, while domestic tourism accounts for the remaining 30 per cent.

The official stressed that the tourism sector in the country has achieved continuous growth, with the availability of all necessary elements and support infrastructure in place.

The minister stated that the contribution of the tourism and aviation sectors to the country’s gross domestic product has risen to 30 per cent, noting that the 2-1/2-day weekend system in the Emirates has greatly supported the the tourism, hospitality and retail trade sectors.

He pointed out that the UAE aims to achieve a growth in GDP of 7 per cent and double the size of the economy to $3 trillion by 2030. This, he said, requires substantial growth across all sectors of the economy.

85% increase in Abu Dhabi visitors

For his part, Abdullah Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral Group, told the summit that the entertainment cities on Yas Island witnessed a remarkable 85 per cent increase in the number of visitors last summer, compared to same period in 2022.

He added:”Last summer witnessed distinguished levels of performance exceeding previous years in terms of guests and hotel occupancy,”

He pointed out that the International Association of Amusement Parks and Tourist Attractions expect spending by visitors in this important sector in the UAE to reach $609 million, a 128 per cent increase compared to $266 million dollars four years ago.

Al Zaabi stressed that “Yas Island has not only witnessed growth but has witnessed a complete transformation to become a global destination that attracts tourists from all over the world, noting that “Miral” has developed an integrated destination that offers experiences related to entertainment and business tourism from all over the world.”

He said that the “hospitality sector in the Middle East and Africa region is witnessing amazing growth and major expansions during the current period.”