GCC to launch a unified tourist visa system in six countries by the end of 2024

asmaa - | World News

Business and leisure travelers will be able to combine their journeys with the long-awaited unified GCC tourist visa, which will increase the popularity of "bleisure" (business and leisure) travel in the area.

The forthcoming unified GCC tourist visa promises to revolutionize travel in the region, particularly by encouraging the blending of business and leisure activities, a trend commonly referred to as ‘bleisure’ travel. By the end of the year, this innovative visa system, akin to Schengen countries, will enable visitors to explore all six Gulf countries on a single visa.

Growing Demand and Diverse Offerings

The allure of the GCC region for both business and leisure travelers is on the rise, fueled by an array of attractions and increasingly streamlined visa processes. Regional cities have emerged as prominent destinations for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE), drawing in a new wave of business travelers. Consequently, the hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors are experiencing a surge in demand, reflecting the evolving preferences and needs of travelers.

Expanding Opportunities for Exploration

The co-founder of EaseMyTrip.com, Rikant Pitti, anticipates a significant uptick in ‘bleisure’ travel from India to the UAE and the broader GCC region with the introduction of the unified tourist visa. This trend is already evident, with travelers from India opting to extend their stays in the Emirates to explore multiple destinations, drawn by the diverse offerings of cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Philip Barnes, CEO of Rotana, underscores the growing popularity of ‘bleisure’ travel as guests extend their business trips to delve deeper into the region's attractions. Rotana's diverse accommodation options cater to this evolving trend, offering everything from serviced apartments to luxury hotels to meet the varied needs of travelers. Moreover, as the region focuses on enhancing its tourism offerings and simplifying cross-border travel, the appeal of visiting multiple countries per trip is on the rise.

Vincent Miccolis highlights the surging demand for flexible accommodation and extended stays among both business and leisure travelers in the GCC. The region has witnessed a notable increase in long-term bookings, reflecting a preference for spacious accommodations and engaging leisure activities. This trend is particularly pronounced during holiday periods, such as Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, indicating the GCC's growing appeal as a prime destination for extended stays across various traveler segments.

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