Dubai - UAE business community welcomes 5-year tourist visa scheme

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Industry executives and analysts believe that tourist spending will substantially increase.

The UAE business community has hailed the five-year multi-use tourist visa for all nationalities announced by the UAE Cabinet on Monday.

Industry executives and analysts believe that tourist spending will substantially increase due to longer stays while the real estate sector could benefit by attracting them as residents.

Joy Alukkas, chairman and managing director of Joyalukkas Group, lauded the decision as it will "boost tourism and retail sectors, especially the gold and jewellery business".

" is a hub for gold and jewellery. The move will lift the business, especially from Indian families. With five-year visa in hand, they will be able to visit Dubai very frequently. Hence, I am very optimistic about the outlook of the retail industry, especially the gold and jewellery industry, as large buyers come from the subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka," he said.

Deepak Babani, managing director of Satguru Holdings Limited, said steps are being taken to bring in more tourists and boost the economy. "Steps are coming one-by-one in order to increase reliance on local economy. This initiative will boost key private sector businesses such as retail, food and beverages, holiday apartments etc," he pointed out.

"This long-term visa will also open up a lot of new tourist destinations for Dubai. Many people decide at the last minute, so if they have a visa, it will make a lot easier for them to visit UAE. And Dubai - being safer and closer to India and China - more families will be coming here as well."

The UAE receives more than 21 million tourists per annum and it aims to establish itself as a top global tourist destination. Around 25 million visitors are expected to visit the six-month long Expo 2020 alone.

Ambareen Musa, CEO of Souqalmal.com, said this is yet another way that the government is really keen to drive the economy forward.

"As a result of this initiative, tourist spend time in the UAE will increase," she said. "Five-year visa will have a multiplier effect on the economy as more number of visits will increase consumption and activity, therefore helping the economy as a whole. It is an initiative that will not just boost tourism but enhance quality of life of many residents as their family and friends will be able to visit them more often. This can also lead to encouraging longer stay for expats in the country," Musa added.

Saj Ahmad, senior analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said offering visas like this for such a long duration will heighten UAE's appeal and boost traffic into the country.

"Many nations that needed complex application forms will find it easier now to visit and do so multiple times. Furthermore, opening up the country for all nationalities opens the prospect for the UAE government to start new bilateral talks that could open up new air traffic routes for Emirates and Etihad," he said.

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