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Danielle Curtis Danielle Curtis

Expat Retirement Visas Could Boost Tourism Numbers in GCC

Providing expatriate workers, who qualify, with residence visas to stay beyond their working lives and the introductions of a series of other new visa options will be key for tourism and give a boost to attractions, activities and entertainment venues. This will be one of the topics addressed at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022, which takes place May 8-11.

ARIVAL Dubai @ ATM, advances the creation of in-destination experiences by providing insights and a community for creators and sellers of tours, activities and attractions. It examines current and future trends and focuses on growing business through marketing, technology, distribution, thought leadership, and executive level connections.

It is estimated that there are currently over 35 million expatriate workers in the GCC countries and there could be a sizeable proportion of the white-collar community, that might want to retire in the GCC, even if it was only for a short period of time.

“With the means and time on their hands, it would be natural, not only for these retirees to travel, but also to receive family and friends. Airlines, hotels, destinations and other entertainment venues, all benefit from this additional revenue stream which ordinarily might have been lost, had the retirees returned to their home countries,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market.

“In addition, it is hardly a coincidence that two of Dubai’s top feeder markets in 2019, India with two million visitors and the UK, with 1,2 million visitors have communities in the UAE, of 2,6 million and 120,000 respectively,” she added.

Spotting this potential, Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai), has already launched an initiative called ‘Retire in Dubai’, the first of its kind in the region, a practical framework with certain minimum financial requirements, whereby residents of Dubai who are approaching retirement age, can apply for a renewable, five-year retirement visa.

“If this initiative is a success, it is more than likely that other GCC nations will follow at some point. Retired expatriates would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the tourism sector, receiving family and friends and continuing to enjoy a quality lifestyle that they have become accustomed to,” added Curtis.