In a bid to boost tourism, the UAE Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship has announced that dependents aged 18 years or below need not pay visa fees when travelling to the country.
However, this fee exemption is applicable only for a limited period from 15th July to 15th September every year. This decision was taken by the UAE Cabinet in September 2018 and this year will be the first year of its implementation.
Generally, the cost for a 14-day Express Visa is about Dh.497 per head, while that for a 30-day multi-entry tourist visa is Dh.917 if the traveller purchases it online.
The UAE residents can also, now, renew the residency visas of their 18-year old dependents for two consecutive years, irrespective of whether they are secondary school or university graduates.
Being a tourist hotspot, this latest visa waiver by the UAE for children below 18, accompanied by parents, visiting the UAE, is expected to boost tourism, say major players in the industry.
The Marketing Manager of Omeir Travels, Rania Kakos, mentioned that this visa fee exemption comes as a shot in the arm for the tourism sector.
Generally, July to September is off-peak season for tourists. Hence, this initiative by the government is definitely encouraging families to visit the UAE during summer months. The harsh summer weather makes it difficult for people to travel to the UAE. But, if you are lookin at the cost factor, it is the best time to visit. The hotel rates are more affordable this season, and so is the airfare. Moreover if parents do not have to pay for children's visa, it can boost tourist interest.
The VP of Market Management EMEA at Expedia Group said that this growth could be driven by various incentives introduced in the region, which include an increase in air capacity by budget carriers from India and China, increased business opportunities, marketing tie-ups and other promotional activities. All these have led to added appeal of UAE to Indian and Chinese visitors, resulting in steady increase in Chinese and Indian travellers to UAE.
Appreciating the visa fee waiver move, the Operations Manager, Anand Lakshmy at International Travel Services, said that the number of families visiting the UAE is likely to increase if the visa fee on children is waived. Generally, there is a dip in tourist numbers during the off-peak season, and hence, this is a welcome move by the government.
The Business Development Manager at Infinity Travel, Razi Koya, speaking along the same line, said that move would definitely make a positive impact on the inbound tourism in the UAE. Families would be immensely benefited with summer promotional rates offered by hotels, tour operators and other outlets in the UAE. Airlines would also offer attractive fares for inbound passengers during summer months. Therefore, along with children's visit visa fee exemption, tourists have an attractive deal.
Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) also conducted in summer months to promote tourism. On the whole, the tourism sector in UAE is likely to grow further, given, the various incentives offered by the government to the visitors.