By Andy Sambidge
DTCM boss Helal Saeed Almarri says exemption expansion will be big boost to emirate's tourism drive
A new ruling by the UAE exempting citizens of 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa to the UAE will further enhance Dubai's popularity with European tourists, according to a senior official.
With citizens of the other 15 European member states already being exempt, the announcement means that all citizens of the European Union holding an ordinary passport will be allowed to enter the UAE without having to previously apply for a visa.
The ruling comes into effect from March 22 and has been hailed by Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
He said: "This is a very positive announcement from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one which will have a significant impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for tourists from the 13 countries included today in the exemption.
"European countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets for visitors and the lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel arrangements from across the continent.
"The news has been received extremely positively here at ITB, both by our partners from the Dubai tourism industry and from the European travel industry. Through our network of offices across Europe we will use ruling to further promote Dubai's attractiveness as a destination for both leisure and business."
The 13 countries that come under the new exemption are: Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Dubai's top visitor source markets in 2013 included five European Union countries, each of which were already exempt from requiring pre-arrival visas - the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
Almarri added: "As we work towards our target of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020, DTCM will continue to work with partners in the government and the private sector to ensure that Dubai's destination offering is continually enhanced.
"This includes infrastructural developments and the provision of more hotels, attractions, events and experiences, but also includes leveraging our geographic location and the connectivity provided by our world leading aviation infrastructure by easing access to the Emirate."
On Wednesday, the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday announced the move to exempt citizens of 13 European Union member states from the need to acquire pre-entry visas to the UAE.
Last week, the European Parliament voted to allow visa-free travel for UAE citizens to countries in the Schengen area in Europe which is made up of 26 countries.
Lawmakers carried the decision with a majority vote of 523 out of 577 EU representatives at a meeting in Strasbourg.
The EU's endorsement of the visa waiver status for UAE citizens will start with the setting up of a joint working team of the UAE and EU, which will implement the decision as soon as possible.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
yes it's fantastic news, the question still remains: why not 8 years ago???