At the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), a “Schengen-style visa” for GCC countries was announced
According to a report by Arabian Business’ sister publication Hotelier Middle East, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are negotiating the introduction of a “Schengen-style visa” that would permit travelers to visit all partner countries with a single visa.
The announcement was made by Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Bahrain, HE Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the UAE Government, and Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which runs until May 4.
“We have a tremendous opportunity; the challenge is to unite the GCC’s member states.” We received 9,9 million visitors in 2022. How? We began co-promoting Bahrain as a unified destination with the GCC that year,” Al Sairafi said, adding that the opportunities are “extraordinary” if all GCC nations unify their promotional efforts.
Last year’s FIFA World Cup was viewed as a successful “test pilot” for cross-collaboration between the Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia, for instance, provided 60-day visas to all Hayya Card holders during the event.
The success of the World Cup has sparked discussions about similar, more permanent travel policies, which would allow tourists to move freely between countries, the report said
According to STA’s Hamidaddin, the GCC nations, which include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, are regulating visas at varying rates, making visa policies “naturally complex.”
However, he emphasized that “collaboration is the name of the game” and that each GCC country’s success complements the others.
Al Sairafi added that discussions were ongoing, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that a Schengen-style visa for the Gulf region could be incredibly useful.
Traveling easily across the Gulf would boost tourism for everyone, and visitors would be happier visiting multiple nations without having to worry about crossing borders.
Cool15 May, 2023