Easier visas for Indians: Tourism ministry in Oman

Source: Times of Oman | By Muhaimin Sada | Published on 12th April 2017, 6:28 PM | Gulf News |

Muscat: An easier visa system for Indians is included under plans to promote tourism in Oman, a senior official at the Ministry of Tourism said.

Salim Al Mamari, Oman’s Director General of Tourism Promotion at the Ministry of Tourism, said: "China is rising, India is rising and Iran too after the removal of the sanctions. There are 100 million people living so close to us. It is low hanging fruit and visa facilitation will be given.” 
The Director General was speaking during the Ministry of Tourism organised Get Connected forum, held today to boost tourism initiatives in Oman.

The ministry also revealed it has signed agreements with Russia, China and Iran to speed up visa processes.

“The Ministry has already signed agreements with immigration offices to facilitate visas for Russia, China and Iran. Hotels ranging from three to five stars and tour operators will be able to process visas for groups coming from the above said countries,” a power point presentation shown at the forum revealed.

Recently, the Indian embassy in Oman said that in 2016, they issued 95,000 visas from Oman to India and in the first two months of this year, it had issued 20,000 visas.

An official from the Indian embassy said that there has been growing interest among the people of Oman for travelling to India for tourism, business, leisure and medical treatment.

Last month, United Arab Emirates activated visa on arrival to Indians holding a valid US green card or US visa to facilitate tourism and trade.

Last week, Ahmed bin Nasser bin Hamad Al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, told Times of Oman that OMR60 million has been set aside for tourism projects over the next three years.

The minister had said that the funds were released to diversify Oman’s economy as part of Vision 2040, the government drive to rid Oman of its dependency on oil revenue.

“We were supposed to receive the money last year, but as you know, the economic crisis prevented that from happening,” Al Mehrzi had said adding that this year, however, they have reached an agreement with the international parties and the ministry of finance has given us the funds we need.

“We have 15 projects for tourism planned, and this year alone, we have OMR16 million for our programmes, with a total of OMR60 million allocated to us until 2020,” he added.

Al Mehrzi emphasised that the Sultanate’s ability to transform itself into a tourism hotspot centred on the differences between Oman and the other Arab nations.

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