Manama: Foreigners residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states can enter Tunisia without the need for a prior visa, the North African country’s tourism minister has said.

Under the new decision, around 25 million people living in any of the six GCC countries can obtain the visa upon arrival in Tunisia, and upon showing a valid GCC residency permit, Selma Elloumi, the minister, said.

Prior to the announcement, residents from countries that do not have visa-exemption agreements with Tunisia had to pay for the visa, which was valid for 15 days.

The decision is part of a series of measures taken by Tunisia to boost Arab and foreign investments in its tourism sector, and to highlight the tourism potential and sites in the country. Tunisia boasts a rich history and natural attractions.

More than 4.5 million tourists visited Tunisia in the first nine months of the year, and the country hopes to reach the target of 5.5 million by the end of the year.

However, despite the steady increase in the number of tourists following the steep decline in 2011 following the dramatic events that shook the country, the number of visitors from the GCC has been below the expectation of the Tunisian authorities, Saudi news site Sabq reported yesterday.

GCC citizens can enter Tunisia without the need for a visa.