The new five-year tourist visa introduced by the UAE government is expected to give a boost not only to the country’s tourism but also Oman’s, its immediate neighbour, bringing in more visitors and encouraging more visits.
After the UAE Cabinet recently announced a new system that will allow tourists of all nationalities to get five-year visas with multiple entries, Oman’s tourism business community hailed the move.
Industry executives said it will also substantially boost tourism in Oman as longer stays in the UAE would result in more arrivals in the sultanate as a nearby country. Msellem al Habsi, managing director of InfoPlus Events, which deals with events, travel and tourism activities, said, UAE is the main gateway for Oman in terms of both events and tourism.
“We welcome the idea of five-year visa in the UAE because Oman will directly or indirectly benefit a lot,” he said.
“As many go to Dubai for tourism as it is more open to the world, many visitors would also want to visit Oman which is more about the Arabian culture,” he added.
Habsi added that the ROP has done a lot to relax visa procedures in the past and if it comes up with similar initiatives, it would definitely boost tourism in the sultanate. “However, there is a need to be careful because opening up further may affect luxury tourism which Oman is known for. But on the other hand, opening up like Dubai will boost tourist numbers,” he said.
Naseem A Shah, deputy manager, National Travel & Tourism, said as Dubai gets more tourists, Oman also stands to benefit from it.
“Oman will benefit because it is already known worldwide and being a neighbour of Dubai is an advantage. Those visiting Dubai would want to visit Oman too,” he said.
Shah hoped that Oman too should look at ways to relax tourist visa procedures for all. “We hope Oman too opens up in terms of relaxing visas further. There is a need for more flexibility in terms of issuing visas,” he said.
However, others feel Oman would not have direct impact from UAE’s new visa policy. “If tourists want to visit Oman, they would definitely come irrespective of what’s happening in Dubai. However, the Dubai move is welcome and I hope it would be an example for Oman to follow in regards to visa relaxation,” said an official at Khimji’s House of Travel.
Hanaa Abdullah, holiday consultant at Majan International Travel and Tourism, too said the UAE move will only make a small difference, adding Oman should open up further to boost tourism.
“There is a need to further relax visa procedures for tourists from all countries. In addition, there is a need to come up with new entertainment activities in order to attract more visitors,” she said.
Meanwhile, to boost Oman’s tourism industry, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is aiming to add 2,159 rooms in 2020.
“We are expecting to add 1,581 rooms in the hotel sector, 349 rooms in hotel apartments, 95 rooms in green hostels, 92 restrooms and 42 rooms in guest houses,” an MoT official said. “The total number of hotel rooms as of the end of November 2019 was 24,531.”
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