Streamlined visa processes are essential to
stimulate visitor figures, according to one government tourism
official, who said that online visa application facilities have
proved highly successful since their recent introduction.
Bader Nasser, head of marketing for tourism affairs for the
government of Bahrain, highlighted the Kingdom’s e-visa initiative
as a “necessary measure” if the drive for fast and seamless
immigration processes for business and leisure travellers is to be
The Bahrain e-visa project – a first for the Middle East and
one of only a handful in the world – comes as the topic of visa
restrictions comes under the spotlight at the first-ever Arabian
Hotel Investment Conference, to be held in Dubai on April 30 – May
Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East and one of the
only countries in the world to issue online visit visas to
simplify – and “fast track” - its immigration processes. To date,
an average of 1,500 visas are downloaded a month, with numbers
expected to double during the next 12 months.
The e-visa initiative is the first phase of a drive to move all
of Bahrain’s immigration processes online.
Nasser said: “For too long, the issue of visas has
blighted the attempts of the tourism authorities especially to
stimulate visitor numbers. We are pioneering the switch to e-visas
as part of our strategy to become a tourism destination of the
Residents of 33 countries outside the GCC can
apply online, allowing
them to download their visit visa anywhere in the world before
travelling to the Kingdom. Those able to take advantage of these
facilities include UK, US, Australia and most European
Nasser said: “While the ideal scenario is still a single visa
to facilitate travel between the Gulf states, we have
to look at new and innovative ways to make the immigration process
as smooth and simple as possible for international visitors.”
The visit visas are valid for two weeks for a fee of BD7
(US$18.50) enabling travellers to fast-track the arrival process
in Bahrain by completing the visa process ahead of time rather
than on arrival. In addition, the downloaded visa removes the need
to pay in local currency.
Etihad Airways recently launched an Online Visa Service and
Emirates has also launched an Online Visa Service.
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