e-Visa Project a boost to tourism in the Sultanate

Haider Al Lawati – haiderdawood@hotmail.com – The inauguration ceremony of e-Visa Project was held recently under the patronage of Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, at ROP Special Task Force HQ in Seeb. The minister noted that the launch of the Omani e-Visa will open up new horizons for e-transformation and digital systems, an important service for future generations, stressing that the Sultanate is one of the first countries that constantly seeks to adopt technology’s latest mechanisms in the Arab world.
This service will facilitate and improve visa procedures, stressing the importance of using the visa system to maintain the safety of and facilitate procedures for arrivals and departures to and from the Sultanate either for tourism, work, study, investment or other services.
This project is also linked with a number of stakeholders, including Ministry of Manpower, for private clearances, Ministry of Commerce and Industry to know the validity of the Commercial Register and Ministry of Civil Service regarding government visas for foreign civil employees.
All these processes will be carried out through an integrated system to reduce the number of visits made by individuals to service counters, whether at the DG of Residency and Passport, Royal Oman Police, or its offices across Oman. It will also enhance the flow of tourism.
This new system is in line with the requirements of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the approach of World Tourism Organization to facilitate the entry of tourists and giving them a warm welcome according to genuine Omani traditions without compromising security to maintain the safety of tourists, monitor accurate statistics that may contribute to the growth of the Omani economy and train Omanis to work in a project of a global nature in terms of technical skills and knowledge.
On the other side, Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, said the facilitation of visa procedures and their electronic switch is a requirement in the ever-growing tourism industry, noting that this launch is a new qualitative move that simplifies the process of obtaining e-Visa.
The minister also noted that the number of tourists arriving to Oman during 2016 reached three million, and is expected to increase to 4.7 million in 2020, explaining that this means automatic growth in the hospitality sector which is expected to exceed the capacity of 20,000 hotel rooms by 2020.
“This is great development”, as the easily-obtained e-Visa will be able to promote the aspect and give great impetus to opening up new markets in the Sultanate, whether from China, Russia or the US, which are major markets exporting tourism worldwide.
Brig Hilal bin Ahmed al Busaidi, DG of Passports and Residency at ROP, said at the press conference that work is currently underway to issue two types of e-Visa: the non-sponsored tourist visa for 67 countries and the visa for GCC resident lists, noting that up to 116 professions are benefiting from the e-Visa. He added that applications can be made for both visas online, noting that within one week a total of two per cent of applications were submitted online, and hopefully these will increase. The official also pinpointed the media’s role in spreading awareness on the importance of switching e-Visa and informing individuals and institutions of the new online procedures.
Oman is blessed with a unique location and diverse, exquisite nature, making it a hub for tourists and visitors. With this in mind, ROP has been keen to put into effect the royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos by utilising modern technologies and replacing the conventional type of service that results in a pileup of applications and overcrowded service counters with modern and simplified procedures.