DUBAI - The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are exploring the option to launch a ‘Schengen-style” visa for tourists which will make it easier for visitors to enter into the countries and spend vacations there.
The development was confirmed by Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism in Bahrain, who said discussions have been taking place at the ministerial level among GCC nations on how to achieve a unified single visa.
Speaking during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, she said that the unified visa system could be happening very soon. Citing the example of Europe, the minister said the benefits of such visa regime are available to all of the countries. The minister was of the opinion that Bahrain has benefited from co-promoting the country along with the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
“We targeted 8.3 million tourists for 2022 but achieved 9.9 million visitors because we co-promoted Bahrain along with the UAE and other GCC markets. It resulted in an increased number of tourists. When we co-promoted at a unified destination through 100-plus tour operators, the footfall also increased and the diversity of nationalities of tourists also increased,” she said.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Al Saleh, undersecretary for the Ministry of Economy, said during the panel discussion that all GCC countries believe that the tourism sector is important for the growth of their economies.
“We have one common market and unified policies. In the tourism sector, the GCC can benefit from both supply and demand sides by having umbrella regulations, policies, and procedures to facilitate growth. Now with increased flow of people among GCC, it is becoming smoother with time,” he said as reported by Khaleej Times.
Highlighting the importance of regions instead of countries in present era, Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority, said that Saudi Arabia greatly benefited from Fifa World Cup in Qatar and this reflects that joint offerings can be promoted and benefit all.
It bears mentioning that if the plan is implemented, the GCC countries would be treated like Schengen zone and would make it easier for globetrotters to explore the region.
The Schengen zone was created in 1985 and allows people and goods to travel freely, usually without showing travel or customs documents. This creates oppurtunities for tourism related revenue for the countries and offers virtually no hurdle for travelers.
The following are part of the zone along with Croatia:
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
As far as the visa requirements are concerned, the Schengen zone allows nationals of certain countries to enter the Schengen Area via air, land or sea without a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period, while determining the criteria others must meet when making similar visits to Schengen states.
Nationals of EU countries are not only visa-exempt but are legally entitled to enter and reside within each other's borders visa free. This freedom of movement can, however, be limited in rare cases, as stipulated by EU treaties. As far as GCC countries are concerned, the details regarding regulations are yet to be revealed.
Pakistani rupee remains largely stable against the US dollar, and other currencies in the open market on Sunday.
On Sunday, the US dollar was being quoted at 283.4 for buying and 285.95 for selling.
Euro comes down to 307 for buying and 310 for selling. British Pound rate remains unchanged at 358.5 for buying, and 362 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED witnessed slight drop and new rate stands at 77.2 whereas the Saudi Riyal remained stable at 76.
Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)
|UK Pound Sterling||GBP||358.5||362|
|Hong Kong Dollar||HKD||36.37||36.72|
|New Zealand Dollar||NZD||175.33||177.33|
Gold prices decreased in local markets in line with the trend in the international market.
On Sunday, the price of a single tola of 24-karat gold stands at Rs216,300, and 10 grams of 24k gold costs Rs185,450.
Single tola of 22 Karat Gold price costs Rs198,274, 21 karat rate per tola costs Rs189,263 and 18k gold rate is Rs162,225 for each tola.
In the global market, gold prices hovers around $2,004 per ounce, after drop of $23.35 on Sunday.
|Lahore||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Karachi||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Islamabad||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Peshawar||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Quetta||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Sialkot||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Attock||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Gujranwala||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Jehlum||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Multan||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Bahawalpur||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Gujrat||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Nawabshah||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Chakwal||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Hyderabad||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Nowshehra||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Sargodha||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Faisalabad||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|
|Mirpur||PKR 216,300||PKR 2,486|