GCC expected to launch single tourist visa in mid-2014

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A senior official at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the six member states are currently working on setting up an automatic system for exchanging information online, to facilitate enforcing a single tourist visa system.

Abdullah Al Shobaili, Assistant Undersecretary at the GCC for Economic affairs, told Saudi-based daily Al Hayat that an agreement between the AGCC countries requires enforcement of different technical elements, especially the presence of an automatic system that links the member countries, a matter involving several entities at the government machineries in every country.

“The issue had been discussed at the joint meeting between the Tourist Cooperation Committee in the AGCC and the GCC Tourist counterpart in the AGCC Chambers of commerce and industry, which was held in Fujairah last year,” he said, noting that, the meeting had been subjected to extensive study.

He, however, a unified GCC law on combating trade fraud and a statute for the protection of consumers are near to completion. The two laws aim at protecting the parties concerned in the whole manufacturing process- producers, consumers, distributors, importers, exporters and the economic environment in general.

Meanwhile, security sources disclosed that the draft bill of issuing the GCC single tourist visa, which is similar to the European single one (Schengen Visitor Visa), is subject to the completion of some technical procedures and is expected to commence in mid-2014.

The sources said the draft bill would be the most comprehensive in the field of security cooperation among the GCC states, as it will create a unified GCC security enquiry and information that issues a GCC visa without reservation as per a code suitable for use in the GCC states.

The system will enable the visitor with a GCC visit visa from entering all GCC countries. Moreover, it is connected with the blacklists which contain names and fingerprints of persons banned from entry to each and every member country.