Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Dubai evaluating more visa exemptions ahead of Expo 2020

Chinese and Russian visitor numbers to UAE surged after country granted them visas on arrival

Coca-Cola Arena is offering free backstage tours on Friday, May 3. AP 
Coca-Cola Arena is offering free backstage tours on Friday, May 3. AP 

Dubai is continuing to work with various stakeholders to ease visa rules for visitors ahead of the Expo 2020 world fair in the emirate as it seeks to boost its tourism sector.

The emirate is working with relevant authorities to evaluate adding more countries whose citizens may be granted visas on arrival, Issam Kazim, the chief executive of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said at a media conference ahead of the Arabian Travel Market next week. The UAE has already granted some countries such as China and Russia visa exemptions.

"We're still pushing for more and more countries to be added to that and we're working with the authorities to make sure that's happening," he said. "The first thing we need to focus on is removing any barriers."

Dubai and the UAE overall have been implementing measures to boost tourism to the country. The UAE has seen a surge in Russian and Chinese tourists after granting them visas on arrival in a bid to attract more visitors. Russian tourists are now granted a free 30-day visa on arrival, which can be extended for a further month in exchange for a fee.

Dubai had 15.92 million visitors in 2018, up 0.8 per cent from a year earlier, with India retaining its spot as the top source market with more than 2 million travellers, according to DTCM data.

China climbed to fourth spot after Saudi Arabia and the UK, with tourist numbers surging 12 per cent to 857,000. Russia rose two places to sixth position with a 28 per cent uptick in the number of travellers to 678,000.

Expo 2020 will have a “significant” impact on tourism during the period from October 2020 to April 2021, auditing firm Ernst & Young said in a study of the economic impact of the world fair earlier this month.

Overall, Expo 2020 is projected to contribute Dh122.6 billion to the UAE’s economy and create nearly 50,000 full-time jobs per year between 2013 and 2031, the study showed.

Updated: April 25, 2019 04:50 PM