The much-awaited unified GCC tourist visa will boost ‘bleisure’ (business-leisure) travel in the region, as visitors will increasingly mix the two to extend their trips to explore the neighbouring countries.

As reported by Khaleej Times on Monday, the Gulf countries will put in place the system to launch the single tourist visa by the end of the year, which will enable the rollout of the GCC unified visa and allow visitors to explore all the six countries on a single visa, similar to Schengen countries.

In addition, more attractions and ease of visas by the GCC countries are luring new tourists while the growing importance of regional cities as a business and tourist destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) are also bringing in a new set to business travellers to the UAE region. Hence, demand for the hospitality, travel and tourism sector is growing.

Rikant Pitti, the co-founder of, said the unified GCC tourist visa will give a substantial boost to ‘bleisure’ travel from India to the UAE and wider region.

Travellers coming from India to the UAE are extending their stays in the Emirates for a few days to make the most of their trips and this trend will pick up with the introduction of the visa.

“There is a huge trend in India where people from the corporate side to UAE come with their families. They want to mix their business and leisure together and hang out for a few more days to explore multiple destinations as both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have a lot to offer,” he said.

Pittie added that the Arabian travel industry is witnessing remarkable growth, driven by factors such as technological advancements, evolving consumer preferences, and a renewed focus on sustainable travel. “We are keen to explore collaborations and initiatives that enhance travel experiences while promoting responsible tourism.”

Philip Barnes, chief executive officer of Rotana, said there is an increase in ‘bleisure’ travel as guests opt to extend their business trips to the region to explore more of what the UAE and its neighbours have to offer.

“We are in the fortunate position that we can cater to diverse travel needs with a variety of accommodation options, from serviced apartments to five-star hotels, capitalising on these market trends,” he said.

He added that as the region looks to grow its tourism offering with enhanced investments, strategies, visa procedures, and more, there is a growing trend among travellers to visit multiple countries per trip.

“With initiatives to simplify cross-border travel, the region is becoming more accessible and appealing to visitors looking to explore the region as a whole. The MICE sector also plays a pivotal role in driving demand in the UAE as it hosts major events, global concerts, and international trade exhibitions, attracting thousands of visitors,” Barnes added.

Vincent Miccolis sees a growing demand for flexible accommodation and travel amongst both business and leisure travellers in the GCC.

“Additionally, We have noted a rising trajectory in long-stay bookings from both business and leisure travellers. In Q1 2024, we saw an exceptional 28 per cent increase in long-term stays as compared to Q1 2023 across its regional properties in Dubai, Riyadh, Al Khobar and Doha. These cities also stand as essential business hubs in their respective regions, home to significant business projects and developments, attracting many business travellers who are either planning to relocate to the GCC permanently or visiting for an extended period,” he said.

Similarly, he said they witnessed a sharp increase in long-term bookings from leisure travellers during holiday periods such as Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha, and school breaks. “Families are increasingly seeking spacious accommodations that offer engaging entertainment and leisure activities. The combination of the GCC’s growing business and leisure offerings have made it a prime destination for long-term stays from every segment of travellers,” he said.

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