UAE - Tourists travelling to the UAE during the summer won't need to pay visa fees for dependents aged 18 years or below, the UAE Cabinet announced on Sunday. The fee exemption will be applicable between July 15 and September 15 every year and is expected to boost tourist numbers during the off peak season.
The decision follows the exemption of transit tourists from visa fees for the first 48 hours. Travel agents in the UAE have welcomed the move, saying it would help boost tourism during the summer season.
A 14-day express tourist visa costs Dh497 per head and a 30-day multi-entry tourist visa costs Dh917 if the traveller purchases it online.
However, according to tour operators, the most popular tourist visa is the 90-day multi-entry tourist visa, which is priced at Dh945.
"The total visa costs for a family of four (parents and two children) would be Dh3,780. With the exemptions, families will have to pay only Dh1,890, excluding taxes," a travel agent from Sharjah-based Sharaf Travels explained.
Rifa Dalvi, a travel consultant from Cozmo Travels, said the move would help residents who stay without their families in the UAE to bring their loved ones for a visit. "It will be great for all tourists ... Airlines offer ticket concessions for infants and children, it only makes sense that countries offer it for visas as well."
Travel agents said contrary to popular belief, the weather is not a deterrent for visitors during this time.
"For example, from Kerala, the festival of Onam is coming up. Though a lot of people want to go back home, now they can also bring their families here and celebrate the festival in Dubai," said the agent from Sharaf Travels.
Shilpa Mahtani, COO of BNBME, a holiday management company, said the period of the fee-free visa offer coincides with the European summer holiday. "Hopefully, we can get some crowds from there, too."
Cofounder and CTO of travel web portal Musafir.com Albert Dias said the move would help promote travel to the UAE from within the GCC region. "However, we expect it to have a limited impact on inbound travel from key feeder markets such as India. Most parents with children in these markets prefer to travel during their local school summer holiday seasons, which usually run from April to June."
The number of passengers travelling through the country's airports reached 32.8 million during the first quarter of this year.
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