MUSCAT: Omanis, along with other GCC nationals, can now make unlimited visits to the UK over a two-year period for just £10 starting on February 22, against the previous £30 paid through the Electronic Visa Waiver scheme, according to a statement from the Embassy of Great Britain in the Sultanate of Oman.

The two-year period of the visit is subject to the validity of the visitor’s passport and whichever is sooner will be taken into consideration for the duration of the journey.

This expansion of the scheme follows the successful launch of the same for Qataris, who have been able to benefit since October 2023, with most applying using the UK ETA mobile app, along with other GCC nationals and Jordan.

The ETAs replace Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) and remove the visa requirement for short stays to the UK for Gulf and Jordanian nationals. However, an ETA is not a visa, it is a permission to travel and it authorises an individual to travel to the UK border. On arrival, an individual will still need to obtain leave to enter in the usual way, either by seeing a Border Force Officer or using an eGate if eligible to do so.

The ETA is part of the UK Government’s transformation and digitisation of the UK border and immigration system, enabling an increasingly seamless customer experience in the future for legitimate visitors as the Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with almost 800,000 Gulf visitors spending £2 billion during their stays in the UK in 2022.

“The ETA will improve the experience of travelling to the UK for the thousands of visitors from the Gulf and Jordan, who represent our second largest tourism market and contribute billions to the UK economy,” James Cleverly, Home Secretary, was quoted as saying.

The statement further said that the application process for an ETA is simple and fast to complete, with the process being entirely digital via a mobile phone app. Applicants need to provide biographic and biometric details and answer questions on suitability and criminality. Once individuals have successfully applied, their ETA is digitally linked to their passport. Decisions will usually be made within three working days, however the majority are decided within hours.

Patricia Yates, CEO, VisitBritain, said that ‘GREAT Britain’ campaigns are underway across the region to showcase the breadth of exciting experiences and destinations to inspire travel to Britain.

“VisitBritain is also working with travel trade and partners in the Gulf so British destinations are sold internationally and to drive bookings now. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to experience our vibrant and dynamic tourism offer,” Patricia said.

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