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GCC plans Multi-entry visas to boost tourist arrivals

The Colliers International Report, which was released at the Arabian Travel Market this week, suggests that the GCC, which aims to increase its target of Indian and Chinese inbound tourist arrivals, should consider issuing multi-entry visas, like Schengen visa issued by the European nations.

China, which is a key market for the region, has 122mn outbound tourists annually, while India contributes 22million. Making a total of 12 recommendations pertaining to visas, accommodation, cultural sensitivities and marketing, the report suggested that GCC-wide multi-entry visas with similar principles like Schengen area, welcomes kits and signage in native languages of guests, promotion of cultural celebrations and festivals from each country, and targeted loyalty programmes to boost tourist arrivals.

The GCC is home to several globally-recognized tourist attractions and it continues to draw in visitors from all over the world. The growth noticed from China and India has driven tourist arrivals across the region in the near past, and this has been reflected in recent guest profiles, said Debrah Dhugga, Managing Director, Dukes London and Dukes Dubai.

The trend is largely proliferated by increasing levels of personal wealth and demand for experiential travel. China is home to 1.4mn high net worth individuals, while India is home to 433,000 high net worth individuals, with 59mn being of urban middle and educated urban, and 97mn are urban blue collar workers.

The growing middle class and cheaper flight options are now changing the landscape of outbound travel for India and China, with a total of 146mn passport holders, said Filippo Sona, Head of Hotels Middle East and North Africa region, Colliers International.

Colliers International assessed the compatibility of major GCC destinations with four traveller types corporate, MICE attendees, experienced leisure travellers and first-time leisure travellers for both Indian and Chinese markets.

Indian visitors to Qatar enjoyed higher compatibility across all the four visitor types, with the country being the second largest source market after Saudi Arabia. The numbers are likely to grow on par with several high-profile sport and leisure attractions to happen in the coming years.

As for Chinese visitors, initiatives like Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture, helped immensely in boosting the profile of Arab states in domestic Chinese markets, and the arrivals to Doha from Asia and Oceania touched 342,976 during first half of the year.

Posted on 25/4/2017

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