Unified tourist visa for GCC countries is in the path

GCC countries will soon have unified tourist visaThe Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is moving toward a single visa for tourists in the region, a GCC official said recently.
“The GCC is currently striving to set up a computer system to exchange data in order to facilitate the issuance of a unified tourist visa for the entire region,” Abdullah Al-Shobaily, assistant secretary-general for economic matters at the GCC, told Al-Hayat daily.
Al-Shobaily did not specify when the GCC would start using a single visa. The move would simplify travel formalities for foreign visitors, which in turn would promote tourism in the region.
“Hammering out an agreement between the six GCC member states requires the completion of several technical and other formalities, including the installation of an information exchange system between government departments in the member states,” Al-Shobaily said.
He added that the matter was discussed in detail during a recent sitting of the Tourism Cooperation Committee of the GCC and the Gulf Tourism Committee of the Federation of Gulf Cooperation Council Chambers in Fujairah.
Al-Shobaily said the unified GCC laws against commercial fraud and consumer protection are in their final stage. He said the laws would be implemented to protect the rights of consumers, manufacturers, distributors, importers and exporters, as well as the economies of the GCC.
“The GCC Ministries of Commerce strive to heighten awareness of consumers about their rights besides providing them with goods and services of high quality at reasonable prices. The rights of traders and investors to make a reasonable profit will also be protected,” he said.
He added that even though no statistics on the counterfeit market in the Gulf markets were available, economies in these countries faced a tough challenge from such products.
He said that the customs departments of these countries were striving to combat counterfeited goods with regulations on the one hand and training of their personnel on the other. They also collaborated with international organizations working in the sector to foil attempts to smuggle imitation goods.
He hoped that the Gulf Customs Union would come into force in 2015. “Only security and quarantine apparatuses will be operating at the entry points between GCC countries when the Customs Union becomes fully operative,” he said.

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