The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is headed towards a unified tourist visa as early as 2014, according to a senior official with the committee.
“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 Saudi newspaper, Al-Hayat daily.
According to Al-Shobaily, no timeframe has been set for the implementation of this single visa for the region.
He added: “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.”
The agenda was discussed 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.
Economics has been cited as the driving force behind this decision with a bid to promote tourism within the six-member nations by simplifying visa procedures for tourists.
Meanwhile, Al-Shobaily was also quoted as saying that unified GCC laws against commercial fraud and consumer protection are also in the final stages, to protect the rights of consumers, manufacturers, distributors, importers and exporters, as well as the economies of the six countries.
The Gulf Customs Union, set for a tentative schedule of 2015, will combat the sale of counterfeit goods within 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.