MUSCAT: Visitors from the neighbouring UAE are coming to the Sultanate of Oman as per a new visa-change policy implemented there.
In December last year, UAE made it mandatory for visit visa holders to extend their stay permits to exit the country and later can come back on a new visa.
According to sources, including those in the travel industry, visit visa holders prefer the Sultanate of Oman as a destination for a short stay.
“Oman is the nearest destination by road, which is also a more affordable option than travel by air. Some people travel by road to the nearby cities of Suhar and Al Buraimi, spend a few days or nights and then return to the UAE on a new visa,” said Rahim, a manager of a hotel apartment in Suhar.
Ratnakar Sharma, who recently visited Oman, says, “There is only private bus company operating between the two countries (Muscat-Dubai-Muscat) with three daily schedules and it is difficult to get a ticket these days due to high demand following the new visa-change policy of the UAE.”
It may be noted that the Sultanate of Oman’s Mwasalat which used to operate similar services prior to Covid-19 restrictions has not resumed services yet.
Several UAE and Oman-based travel operators have launched visa change packages, which include guaranteed one-day approval of the UAE visa and the next day's return.
Some packages also include two-way tickets from Dubai and Sharjah to Oman while some operators, including airlines, offer facilities such as returning to the UAE after a few hours at the airport, provided their UAE visa has been approved.
With most passengers looking for affordable options, budget hotels and hotel apartments are preferred by most visitors who do not have friends and relatives to put up a night or two in the Sultanate of Oman.
It may be noted that the Sultanate of Oman allows GCC residents to come to the Sultanate of Oman with an e-visa, while some nationalities can avail of visa-free or visa-on-arrival facilities.