Unified GCC tourist visa policy to boost region’s attractiveness for global talent and businesses - GulfToday

Unified GCC tourist visa policy to boost region’s attractiveness for global talent and businesses

The unified GCC tourist visa is expected to boost tourism by making the region more accessible

The unified GCC tourist visa is expected to boost tourism by making the region more accessible.

Sajjad Ahmad, Deputy Business Editor

New visa policies, like the unified GCC tourist visa, further enhance the region’s attractiveness to global talent and businesses. Moreover, these policies can potentially pave the way for the creation of additional unified visa categories, including those for business or residency, said Ali Haider, Regional Director, Nomadic, a business travel technology platform.

In an email interview with Gulf Today, he said, “Self-sponsorship schemes like the UAE’s Golden Visa, and Saudi Arabia’s Premium Residency Scheme also demonstrate the region’s commitment to modernising and enhancing the overarching immigration framework.”

Haider added, “The unified GCC tourist visa is expected to boost tourism by making the region more accessible and encouraging the exploration of lesser-known destinations. For instance, the UAE aims to increase tourism’s contribution to the GDP to AED 450 billion by 2031, indicating significant growth potential. The success of this visa would also stimulate supporting business sectors like hospitality, transportation, and event management. Possible future unified business visa categories would also enhance intra-regional business travel and meet the mobility needs of Gulf-based businesses by facilitating exploratory visits into new markets, and generally fostering a more accessible and dynamic regional business environment.”

On the changing landscape of business travel, He explained, “In the coming years, business travel is expected to significantly evolve, surpassing pre-COVID expenditure levels to reach nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027. This growth will primarily be fuelled by continued demand for in-person meetings, corporate events, and an increasing number of fully remote businesses. Dubai’s 2023 statistics recorded 15.37 million overnight international visitors in the first 11 months of 2023, up by about 20% from last year.”

About the new travel trend, Haider said, “The trend of blending business trips with leisure, known as ‘bleisure,’ is becoming increasingly popular, with 62% of business travellers now blending work and leisure trips, with 42% adding vacation days to their business travel, according to a GBTA survey. Companies are adapting by offering more flexible travel policies, including remote work options.”

Explaining the impact of new technology on travelling business, he said, “Technology, particularly AI, is transforming the travel experience, making processes like visa applications and compliance checks more efficient. Given how fast-paced and dynamic the immigration and business travel landscape is, technology will also play a crucial role in providing travellers with real-time updates on any changes to entry or travel requirements at their destination.”

 About the Nomadic’s online platform features, he said,“ Nomadic offers an online platform for travellers, covering everything from pre-trip assessments to visa support, filing capabilities, and compliance management. Its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology simplifies the visa application process, reducing paperwork and removing administrative challenges. It goes a step further in maintaining compliance by tracking key dates, including visa expiries, entry/exit dates, and location, through geo-tracking capabilities.”

“Proactive travel data monitoring by HR departments is essential for spotting compliance trends, identifying risks, and enabling timely interventions against policy deviations. This approach helps mitigate the impact of unforeseen events such as bad weather, natural calamities, social unrest, etc. Additionally, a well-defined internal system to track cross-border mobility allows HR to leverage travel data to optimise travel policies, allocate resources more efficiently, and improve employee travel experiences, all within the framework of corporate policies.”

With the UAE and similar business hubs aiming to attract global talent, platforms such as Nomadic provide scalable and customisable tech solutions for corporations and individuals, backed by a powerful combination of immigration knowledge and experience.

Highlighting the challenges business travel tech industry facing, he explained,“ Business travellers and their employers are looking for efficient and innovative tools to help them move around the world faster, but as countries are continually implementing new visa regulations, compliance is top of mind. Administrative processes such as gathering and maintaining complex sets of documents for visa applications, completing detailed forms, visiting application centres, and securing embassy and consular appointments can be a huge challenge for clients.”

 Haider concluded,“ Rising travel costs, including airfare, accommodation, and transportation, can strain travel budgets, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or businesses operating on tight margins. The employee travel data stored in travel tech tools like Nomadic can be used to optimise policies, efficiently allocate resources, and align with corporate guidelines.”


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