13 Dhu al-Qi'dah 1445 - 21 May 2024
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Eye of Dubai
Tourism & Hospitality | Tuesday 20 February, 2024 9:24 am |

Unified tourist visa to improve GCC position as global destination: Minister

The GCC Supreme Council's approval of the unified tourist visa is a historic step that reflects its commitment to strengthening cooperation and deepening ties in the field of tourism, said Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb.


The decision will help the gulf countries become a global tourist destination, Al Khateeb said at the eighth meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council tourism ministers in Qatar, Saudi Press Agency reported.


He added that the achievements of the GCC played a crucial role in boosting the tourism industry, allowing it to outperform other regions in recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Kingdom saw a 156% increase in tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019, surpassing both regional and global recovery rates.


He said that $800 billion would be invested by the Kingdom in cities and tourist destinations over the next decade as part of its Vision 2030 goals.


Tourism is one of the key sectors in the Kingdom, as it helped the Kingdom achieve one of Vision 2030 targets of attracting 27 million visitors in 2023. These tourists spent more than SAR 100 billion during the first three quarters of 2023.


Accordingly, the Kingdom ranked first at the G20 level and second globally in terms of international tourist growth, up 56% in 2023 compared with 2019.


Saudi Arabia raised its target to 150 million visitors by 2030, 80 million from inside the Kingdom and 70 million from outside.


These investments will serve not only the Kingdom but also the GCC countries, the minister said.


Al-Khateeb said that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP of GCC countries in 2022 was only 7.8%, falling short of expectations. This showed the need to strive for a 10% contribution in the coming years, he said.





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