The Schengen-style tourist visa being planned by the GCC countries will attract more long-haul tourists from Europe, the US and Asian destinations and increase the length of stay to over 10 days.
While speaking during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism in Bahrain, said discussions have been taking place at the ministerial level among the regional countries on how to achieve a unified single visa – similar to the Schengen style.
“We see that happening very soon because we see people flying from abroad to Europe usually spending their time in several countries rather than in one country. We really saw the value this can bring not to each country but all of us,” Al Sairafi said during a panel discussion on “The Future of Travel for the GCC” held at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
Travel industry executives noted that many religious tourists going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will also travel to the UAE and vice-versa.
Officials and industry players noted that tourists of the future consider regions rather than individual destinations, as travel has become easier and faster now.
The Schengen visa is the world’s largest visa-free zone, allowing unrestricted movement to foreign tourists across 26 countries.
Around 879 million trips for tourism were made by residents of EU countries in 2021, according to the European Office for Statistics.