Non-sponsored visa to boost tourist arrivals

The partially liberalised visa rules for tourists from emerging markets of India, China and Russia are expected to boost the arrival of inbound tourists from these countries with a huge middle class population.
In a statement on Thursday, the Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC) said: “Passengers from India, China, Russia who reside in or hold entry visa to any of the following countries — United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Schengen States and Australia — will be allowed to obtain non-sponsored tourist visa to enter the Sultanate as per the applied terms and conditions.”
OAMC said more details about the terms and fees will be available with the official travel agencies and the airlines operating in Oman.
Confirming to the Observer about receiving the circular from OAMC, Hameed Moideen of Oman Wings Travels and Tours said it was a “positive step”.
Issa Sultan al Ismaili of Oman World Tourism said it will “help bring more tourists from these target groups”.
OAMC circular has been sent to all the travel agencies and airlines operating out of Muscat International Airport. Details on e-visa are available at https://evisa.rop.gov.om/en/home
A lot of people from these countries visit the US, UK and Australia and Schengen countries for education, leisure and business.
“Targeting these groups makes business sense. I hope the government will expand the scope of e-visas and do away with the need for sponsors,” said a source with a local airline in Oman.
According to data, Oman received 2.2 million international travellers in 2014, 2.6 million in 2015 and 3.3 million in 2016. It is expected to receive 3.7 million this year and five million by 2020 at an annual growth of 13 per cent.
Oman has witnessed 82 per cent growth in Indian arrivals in the last five years.
The Ministry of Tourism had earlier said it is focusing on the emerging markets of Russia, China, Iran and India to attract inbound tourists and certain amendments have been made to the existing tourist visa rules.
Amendments were also made to the tourist visa rules under the Foreign Residency Law, which was published in the official gazette through decree no. 77/2017.
The decree was made following changes to Article 10 3/A. Tourist visas will be granted by a competent authority to foreigners (from specified countries) who want to visit the Sultanate.
The holder of this visa can stay in the country for a month, extendable for a similar period. The visa fee is RO 20. Visas will be granted at an authorised port of entry. They can also be obtained from the Sultanate’s representatives abroad.
Visas can be granted by a competent authority to nationals of specified states at the request of an authorised local operator in return for a financial guarantee determined by the competent authority.
Article 10, 3 (A) had included visit visa granted to relatives and friends of Oman at his request and under his sponsorship, as well as to the relatives of the foreigner residing in the country under their responsibility.
The visa entitles the holder to stay in the country for three months and can be extended for not more than a month.

Vinod Nair

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