Dubai: Simpler travel process for unified GCC visa to boost tourism, says expert

When it is easier for passengers to process paperwork, the destination becomes more welcoming, said the IATA official


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 4 Jun 2024, 12:04 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Jun 2024, 6:05 PM

GCC unified visa will boost travel in the region if the process of applying for them is simple, said a top aviation industry official.

“I still remember when the Schengen visa was first introduced, we saw a drop in traffic to Europe because it was so complicated to fill up and go to the embassy to get the visa," said Kamil Alawadhi, from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) speaking to Khaleej Times during a media interaction.

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He added that making the travel process easier for consumers will have a positive impact. “When it is easier for passengers to process travel paperwork, the destination becomes more welcoming,” he said.

Kamil, the Regional Vice President Africa & Middle East at IATA, was speaking as part of the agency’s annual general meeting that concludes in Dubai on Tuesday.

Last month, local officials confirmed that the unified visa system will be in place before the end of the year and will be easy to access for travellers.

“By the end of this year, the whole system will be in place,” said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority (SCTDA). “(We) are working day and night and e-service is a vital part of it. We don’t want to complicate things for people and also maintain the same security level. It will be a very good initiative and we will see a positive outcome for regional economies.”

Positive outlook

Kamil further added that the travel outlook for the region looks upbeat especially with the announcement of the new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport. "Leisure travellers often take into account the quality of airports," he explained. "New airports are able to pinpoint and address challenges such as overcrowding or inefficiencies that older airports may face. Better customer service tends to attract encourage traffic."

In April, plans for the new Dh128 billion passenger terminal was announced at the Al Maktoum International airport, that would scale up the passenger capacity to 260 million annually. All operations at the current Dubai International (DXB) will be transferred there once it opens.

Set to be five times the size of DXB, the airport will span 70 square-km once fully operational. It will have five parallel runways and five passenger terminals housing more than 400 aircraft gates.

Experts have long predicted that smaller, more fuel efficient planes will become more popular in the future resulting in more flights and better connectivity. Earlier this year, the chief of Dubai airports Paul Griffiths had said that this is one of the reasons why the Al Maktoum airport will have 400 gates.


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