Exploiting the enormous tourism potential of the CCG

The recently concluded GCC Summit called for joint action by youth and the private sector to play a greater role in economic diversification efforts.

He also called for efforts to improve the connectivity of infrastructure that will help GCC citizens and residents to move quickly and with minimal restrictions. Tourism, which was considered the main pillar of the GCC’s non-oil diversification policy for the past two decades, suffered a big setback when the Covid-19 pandemic closed all borders (land, sea and air) .

The FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar next year is expected to attract millions of visitors and some joint efforts will help other GCC members attract some of these visitors, who will travel to the region from around the world.

Besides strengthening transport connectivity, it is also important to have liberal visa policies for citizens and residents of the GCC.

Maithaa bint Saif al Mahrouqiyah, undersecretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism for tourism, said the integration of the tourism sector between the Gulf countries should not be seen as a competition.

“We are looking to open more recreational tourism projects to attract family tourists from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries,” she said. With the opening of the direct route to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman expects an influx of tourists to the other side in the coming years.

The two sides are expected to increase the number of flights between the two countries.

“I see great potential for road tourism between the two countries in the years to come. Saudi Arabia is a vast country and has a lot to offer tourists, as does the Sultanate of Oman as the gateway to the Arabian Peninsula. The Empty Quarter area in itself is an attraction and will attract visitors if facilities are developed for motorists on both sides of the border, ”said a tour operator who has some experience in bringing pilgrims from the Sultanate of ‘Oman to Saudi holy cities for Umrah.

“This is a great opportunity in the Sultanate of Oman for tour operators to start their activities in the empty neighborhood. The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism will announce appropriate incentives, including the development of facilities, to attract GCC tourists, ”sources from the travel and tourism industry told the Observer.

“If people can travel 1,000 km to Salalah from Muscat, they will also be able to travel to Saudi Arabia in the coming months,” they said.

The undersecretary also said that citizens of 103 countries are now allowed to enter the Sultanate of Oman without obtaining a prior visa and can stay for up to 14 days.

At the same time, citizens of 27 of these 103 countries can only enter the Sultanate of Oman without a prior visa if they have a Schengen visa in their passport, or have entry visas to the United States, Australia. , UK, Canada or Japan. The 27 countries are India, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Armenia, Panama, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkmenistan, Honduras, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Laos, Albania, Bhutan, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Vietnam, Cuba and the Maldives. Several citizens and residents of the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman cross the land border daily for business and tourism purposes. Recently, Kuwait announced that some GCC expatriate professionals (53 nationalities) residing for more than six months in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Sultanate of Oman can apply for tourist visa online. Professions include consultants, physicians, engineers, lawyers, teachers, media personnel, managers, business people, and the diplomatic corps. Upon arrival, a visa fee of 3KD may apply after obtaining the visa at the border entry point.

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