Qatar was a top destination for GCC visitors throughout the Eid Al Fitr holiday.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is reportedly in talks to launch a single, “Schengen-like” visa that could ease travel across the region, Hotelier reported on Wednesday.
The report cited Bahrain’s Minister of Tourism Fatima Al Sairafi, who made the remarks during a panel at the Arabian Travel Market in response to a question on adopting a unified visa for the GCC.
“Discussions have taken place on how we can achieve [something] similar in the long term. We really saw the value it adds to the whole region. People spend more when they travel across countries,” she said.
The Bahraini official noted that the 2022 FIFA World Cup helped inspire discussions over a united visa system. At the time, the Hayya Card enabled fans from across the region and the world to enter the Gulf state and enjoy football while touring Qatar.
“The day will come, very soon, where tourists will say they are going to the Gulf, similar to how they say they are going to ‘Europe,’ ‘Asia’ and so on,” Al Sairafi said.
Last month, authorities in Qatar announced an expansion of the Hayya platform following the success of the Hayya card during the World Cup – the first to ever be hosted in the region.
The move is set to attract more tourists who currently require a visa, access to the Gulf nation with immediate effect. It also saw the Hayya platform become the country’s single portal for all tourist visas required to enter Qatar.
Recent data from Qatar Tourism shows that the number of visitors to Doha has significantly increased during the first two months of this year, with a 347% growth compared to the same period last year, totalling 730,000 visitors.
More recently, Qatar was a top destination for GCC visitors throughout the Eid Al Fitr holiday.
Speaking to Doha News in Souq Waqif at the time, one Saudi tourist said they were thrilled to spend Eid holidays in Qatar.
“We drove in with our family from Riyadh to come and spend Eid with our family in Qatar. Qatar is beautiful and it has developed majorly since the last time we came,” the Saudi man said.
“God willing, we will remain brothers and our doors will stay open for one another,” he added.