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GCC plans to launch a unified tourist visa to boost overall GDP

The GCC visa, expected within the next two years, is expected to promote overall economic growth.

GCC plans to launch a unified tourist visa to boost overall GDP
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Tourism in the GCC countries has been on the rise in recent years, particularly following Saudi Arabia’s introduction of e-visas and diversification efforts in various sectors. The GCC states offer 837 tourist sites collectively, and the UAE leads the region with 399.

Moreover, the UAE hosts most events and tourist activities in the GCC, accounting for 73 of the 224 tourist events in the Gulf region.

The GCC states have decided to introduce a unified Gulf tourist visa within the next two years, as announced by Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy. This visa is set to provide greater accessibility for travelers across the six Gulf countries, with specific regulations and legislation to govern its implementation.

Also, the Emirates Tourism Council has developed a tourist route that links all of the UAE’s emirates in preparation for the country’s integration with the rest of the GCC regarding visa policies.

“This initiative is an integral part of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy, designed to elevate the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP through increased inter-GCC travel and elevated hotel occupancy rates, transforming the GCC into a pre-eminent global destination for both regional and international tourists,” the Al Marri added.

The UAE’s tourism sector currently contributes 14% to its GDP, with plans to raise this figure to 18%. The UAE stands out among GCC nations with 1,114 hotel establishments, ranking second after Saudi Arabia.

The ambitious plans also include an annual 7% increase in inbound trips to GCC countries. The GCC received 39.8 million visitors the previous year, marking a 136% growth compared to 2021. By 2030, the GCC collectively aims to attract 128 million visitors.

Al Marri reveals that the GCC countries have set a goal to achieve a 7% annual increase in the direct GDP contribution of the travel and tourism sector. Additionally, it is anticipated that the total value added to the GDP of the GCC countries’ travel and tourism sector will reach $185.9 billion in 2023, reflecting an 8.5% growth compared to the $171.4 billion achieved in 2022.

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