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UK Announces Major Visa Change For Visitors From GCC And Jordan


UK Announces Major Visa Change For Visitors From GCC And Jordan


LONDON - The UK government has announced a major change to visit visa requirements for nationals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Jordan. The change will make it easier and cheaper for them to travel to the UK for short stays.


What Is The Change?


The UK will remove visit visa requirements for citizens from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Jordan. Instead, they will be offered an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) lasting two years for just 10 pounds ($12). An ETA is a digital permission to travel for those visiting or transiting through the UK who do not need a visa for short stays, or who do not currently hold another United Kingdom visa.


When Will It Take Effect?


The scheme is set to launch for Qatari nationals in October 2023, and for the rest of the GCC states and Jordan in February 2024 ahead of a worldwide expansion throughout 2024. The announcement was made on the United Kingdom government website.


Why It Is Important?


The UK government said that visitors from the GCC states and Jordan make a huge contribution to the UK’s tourism industry and the new ETA scheme will make it easier and cheaper for them to travel to the UK. The cost of an ETA will be one of the best values in the world compared to similar international schemes. This small additional cost to visitors will enable the UK to bolster the security of its border and keep its communities safe.


The UK government also said that this scheme is further proof of the strong partnership between the UK and countries across the region. By cutting costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will ensure visitors from the GCC states to the UK, boosting business and tourism links between their countries.


How Many Visitors Are Expected To Benefit?


Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy with more than 790,000 spending $2.5 billion during their stays in the United Kingdom last year. The new ETA scheme is expected to increase the number of visitors from these countries, as well as enhance their experience and satisfaction.


The new ETA scheme will also benefit Jordanian nationals, who currently have to pay 100 pounds ($124) for a visit visa. The UK government said that Jordan is a key partner in promoting stability and security in the Middle East and that it wants to strengthen its ties with Jordan through increase trade, investment, and tourism.


What Are The Reactions?


The announcement of the new ETA scheme was welcomed by officials and travelers from the GCC states and Jordan. They expressed their appreciation for the UK government’s initiative and said that it will facilitate their travel plans and increase their opportunities to visit the UK for various purposes.


Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: “Visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan make a huge contribution to the UK’s tourism industry and the new ETA scheme will make it easier and cheaper for them to travel to the UK.”


Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia Lord Ahmad said: “I’m delighted that our partners across the Gulf and Jordan will be the first benefit from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme. This scheme is further proof of the strong partnership between the UK and countries across the region.”

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