DOHA: Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi affirmed that the relevant technical committees are working on determining the form and nature of the GCC unified tourist visa, which was approved by the 44th GCC Summit, held in Doha last December.

This came in a statement following the 8th ministerial meeting of GCC Ministers of Tourism, hosted by Doha on Monday.

He added that those committees are also studying the way the unified visa shall work in preparation for presenting it according to the systems and laws of all GCC countries. In the same context, he stressed that the unified tourist visa aims to attract foreign tourist flows to the GCC countries and activate the components of such a significant vital sector.

The Secretary-General of the GCC pointed out that the unified visa project will make it easier for tourists and visitors to move between the GCC countries easily and conveniently, expressing his hope that the tourism sector would benefit from this visa once it is implemented.

Commenting on the meeting, he confirmed that the meeting discussed the optimal ways to implement the Gulf Tourism Strategy (2023-2030), which was approved by the GCC Supreme Council at its 43 session, and to implement it on the ground to activate and encourage the sector.

Albudaiwi expressed his happiness with the great tourism progress achieved by the GCC countries, pointing out the impact of this on the national product of the GCC economies and all sectors. He underscored that the GCC countries had become tourist destinations with their international credibility, political stability, infrastructure, airports, and open skies, in addition to various tourist attractions.

He pointed out that the tourism sector had become one of the most important sectors that the GCC countries are turning to in order to diversify their sources of income. He pointed out that there are plans to diversify and develop sources of income, as tourism is expected to play a prominent role in that.

He congratulated Qatar on its successful hosting of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 and its winning of the tournament's title.

He indicated that the 8th ministerial meeting reflects the commitment to achieving the goals by discussing Gulf tourism strategies for the coming years, which will include joint projects that enhance the attractiveness of the Gulf countries as a global tourist destination while consolidating the concept of sustainable tourism as a basis for developing this vital sector. He stressed the importance of enhancing joint work and exchanging experiences and experiments to enhance its competitiveness and attractiveness.

The ministers responsible for tourism in the GCC countries held their eighth meeting in Doha on Monday, where Chairman of Qatar Tourism, Saad bin Ali Al Kharji, confirmed in his opening speech that the general framework of the Gulf Tourism Strategy (2023-2030) serves as a strong impetus for joint tourism work, given its aspirations and aims for supporting growth in the tourism sectors of the GCC countries, especially as they are all moving towards developing their tourism sectors and enhancing their contribution within the framework of economic diversification strategies.

The Chairman of Qatar Tourism added that the meeting is of particular importance to enhance tourism cooperation and integration between the Gulf countries and to build on the successes achieved over the past years, which requires the completion of the ongoing discussions on the mechanisms for implementing the Gulf Tourism Strategy, and the initiatives emanating from it; such as the unified tourist visa, in addition to joint marketing programs and campaigns, and the exchange of experiences and knowledge, which are initiatives that contribute to achieving the desired goal of this strategy, by enhancing the prospects for tourism cooperation and supporting the process of sustainable economic development.

Al Kharji stressed that the tourism industry has become an important tributary to achieving economic development throughout the world, adding that the number of international travellers during 2023 reached 1.3 billion, while the sector's contribution to the global economy amounted to 3.3 trillion dollars, and in the GCC countries, local tourists' spending reached USD one billion. Statistics also indicate that the GCC countries saw an increase in the rate of spending by tourists coming to them by an average of 12.8 percent in 2022.

He voiced looking forward to increasing the gross domestic product of the travel and tourism sector in GCC countries by 7 percent until 2030, stressing that the success of any Gulf tourist destination in attracting visitors and providing a distinguished experience is a success for the rest of the destinations, and a renewed invitation to the visitor to learn more about the rest of the destinations.

According to statistics, the Gulf tourism sector succeeded in attracting 36 million tourists in 2022, despite the geopolitical tensions surrounding the region, Al Kharji said adding that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Expo Dubai, and the major events hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have contributed to changing the perceptions of the West and even pushed them to respect our principles and culture.

Al Kharji stated that Qatar received 700,000 visitors last January while organizing several sporting and tourism events, most notably the Asian Football Cup, which confirms that visitor numbers in the region are on the rise.

He pointed out that the Gulf tourism sector possesses competitive advantages that qualify it to become one of the most important destinations around the world, primarily the resilience and stability of its economies, and the encouraging investment environment, which can pump and attract more tourism investments, in addition to the advanced infrastructure at the level of transportation and the hospitality sector, in addition to its strategic location that makes it a link between the East and the West.

© Copyright Qatar Tribune. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (
Qatar Tribune