MUSCAT: Salim bin Mohammed al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, announced the unanimous approval of the GCC common or unified tourism visa. The implementation of this visa will commence soon, once all necessary mechanisms are in place. The minister made this announcement during a regional ministers' meeting held at the Oman Across Ages Museum in Manah on Thursday.

The proposal for the common tourism visa will be presented at the upcoming meeting of regional interior ministers in November in Muscat. In addition to this significant development, the meeting also saw the acceptance of the proposal to nominate Sur as the Arab Capital for Tourism in 2024. Sur, a captivating coastal town, will play host to numerous events throughout the year to attract Gulf tourism.

An official from Saudi Arabia, speaking to the Observer, highlighted the importance of integrating GCC markets to bolster economic growth and create job opportunities for the citizens of member nations. The unified visa is viewed as the initial step towards achieving this goal.

Earlier discussions during the meeting covered various topics, including the Gulf Tourism Strategy, the unified Gulf tourist visa, and the establishment of a common tourism platform.

Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism for Tourism, had earlier emphasised that the meeting would contribute to enhancing the tourism capabilities of Gulf Cooperation Council countries. This aligns with the studies approved during the meeting held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Al Ula in 2022.

Al Busaidi also stressed the importance of developing an executive framework to ensure the effective implementation of the agreed-upon initiatives, with the ultimate aim of establishing the Arabian Gulf region as a competitive and sought-after tourist destination worldwide. This vision is driven by the tourism sector's potential to create substantial job opportunities and foster economic growth.

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