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KUWAIT CITY, May 4: Gulf experts and officials working in the field of tourism, who participated in the Arab Travel Exhibition in Dubai, affirmed that they plan to make the Gulf region a “Schengen” region similar to Europe by launching unified tourism packages that attract travelers from abroad to multiple tourist stations in the region, according to the website “Zawya”, reports Al-Qabas daily.
During one of the exhibition’s seminars, the Bahraini Tourism Minister Fatima Al-Serafi revealed that joint talks between the countries of the region and international organizations have begun about the possibility of granting a unified Gulf visa to tourists, similar to the “Schengen” visa in the European Union.
She said, “What we saw of tourist demand in the Gulf region during the World Cup had a multiplying tourism and economic impact on the entire region.”
Minister Al-Serafi highlighted the benefits of the unified tourism destination strategy for the Gulf countries.
She said, “When we announced the 2026 tourism strategy last year, we aimed to receive 8.3 million tourists, but we were surprised by the arrival of about 10 million tourists to the country. This was prompted by a major initiative we took last year to promote tourism to Bahrain along with other Gulf countries, starting with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
We noticed that the joint promotion of Bahrain as a unified tourist destination led to an increase in the number of travelers to the country, in addition to an increase in the diversity of the coming nationalities.”
Al-Serafi acknowledged that joint talks between the countries of the region and international organizations had started about the possibility of granting a unified Gulf visa to tourists, similar to the “Schengen” visa in the European Union.
She added, “What we saw of tourist turnout in the Gulf region during the World Cup had a multiplying tourism and economic impact on the entire region. The tourism experience that Saudi Arabia went through during the tournament was a great catalyst for the future of tourism in Saudi Arabia. There are discussions among the countries of the region about how to achieve joint tourism cooperation, because we are aware of the great value that it can achieve in the future for the entire Gulf region.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority Fahad Hamid al-Din said, “The Saudi Tourism Authority believes that tourism belongs to the entire Gulf region, not just Saudi Arabia.
Travelers around the world look at the Gulf region as a whole, and this is how we should all think of the Gulf countries. The success of any Gulf state contributes to the success of the entire region.
We have seen how the FIFA World Cup presented a wonderful example of the success of mass tourism in the Gulf region, and this gave us a strong impetus for collective and joint action in the future success of the tourism sector.”
In this regard, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs in the UAE Abdullah Al-Saleh said, The “Schengen” tourism strategy for the Gulf region also led to an increase in the UAE’s preferences as a major tourist destination over the past years.
We have seven emirates in the country, and each emirate has developed itself as a tourist destination. These seven emirates compete with each other to attract tourists in a healthy way, which adds great tourism value to the country in general.”
It is worth highlighting that, while Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup late last year and witnessed a large influx of tourists and fans from all over the world, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also witnessed a large tourist turnout because of the tournament.