‘Oman can ben­e­fit from UAE’s five-year visa rule’

Muscat Daily - - NATION - Shad­dad al Musalmy

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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