Posted by Bob Brunskill
Tourism leaders in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have called for a common visa that would allow visitors to travel freely across the region.
The issue was a focus for discussion at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which took place at the Madinat Jumeirah hotel in Dubai from May 1st-3rd, Gulf News reported.
Commenting on the visa idea, Daniel Hajar, chief executive officer of Layia Hospitality, suggested it would particularly benefit tourism-led countries in the region like the UAE.
"A common GCC visit visa could be beneficial for hotels, airlines etc," he observed.
Meanwhile, Majida Bahbahani, director of marketing and foreign relations for Kuwait's tourism sector, noted that when the UAE granted a visa waiver to 33 nationalities back in 2001, it had a major impact on the development of the tourism industry in the country.
"GCC countries have to understand that tourism can have a major influence. In the UAE alone it contributes to more than 20 per cent of its GDP," added the official.
This week, Abu Dhabi National Hotels hosted a ceremony to mark the completion of construction at its Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi resort on Saadiyat Island, one of the largest resorts in the Middle East.