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| 14 November, 2017

Oman expands list of nationalities eligible for tourist visas

Photo used for illustrative purpose only. View of the Muscat's old town, Muttrah, Oman

Photo used for illustrative purpose only. View of the Muscat's old town, Muttrah, Oman

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Move comes as Oman aims to boost tourism revenues to cope with plunge in oil prices

Foreigners from 68 countries can enter Oman on a tourist visa, valid for a year, and their stay should not exceed one month at a time.

The visa entry has now been extended to 68 countries, including 39 European nations, 10 South American countries, besides 19 other states, according to the Directorate General of Passports and Residency.

Visa applicants from the 68 countries interested in travelling to Oman must have a passport valid for six months.

The move comes as Oman aims to boost tourism revenues as the government has implemented various austerity measures to cope with the plunge in oil prices.

Brigadier General Hilal Al Busaidi, Director General of Passports and Residency, said that the eligible foreigners can apply for a tourist visa through the Royal Oman Police (ROP) website (www.evisa.rop.gov.com) or upon arrival at designated locations.

Foreigners should present a passport valid for more than six months.

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Al Busaidi added that the new tourist visa, valid for one year, would cost 50 riyals.

In October, Oman announced Indians, Russians and Chinese would be exempt from requiring sponsorship and it added 25 more countries in the same month: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Albania, Uzbekistan, Iran, Panama, Bhutan, Bosnia, Peru, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Georgia, Honduras, Salvador, Tajikistan, Guatemala, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Costa Rica, Laos, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Visa applicants from the 28 listed countries interested in travelling to Oman must have a passport valid for six months.

The applicants must also have a valid visa to the US, Canada, Australia, the UK or Schengen countries, at the time of application.

They must also have a return flight ticket and a confirmed hotel reservation in Oman.

The visa costs 20 Omani riyals and would be valid for a month.

In 2016, Oman approved the National Strategy for Tourism 2040, which aims for a 6 per cent rise in the contribution of the tourism sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) and a target of five million visitors by 2040 — double of Oman’s current number of annual tourists (2.7 million).

Government spending this year is projected to total 11.7 billion riyals (Dh111.3 billion) and revenues 8.7 billion riyals, which would result in a deficit of 3 billion riyals.

Oman posted a budget deficit of 5.3 billion riyals in 2016, as revenues declined by more than 30 per cent.

Oman has smaller oil reserves and less of a cushion in government savings than its wealthier neighbours, making it vulnerable to the impact of lower oil prices that has depressed growth across the region.

Moody’s Investors Services cut Oman’s rating to its second-lowest investment grade in July, citing the country’s limited progress in addressing structural vulnerabilities.
 
Reporting by Fahad Al Mukrashi

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