Promote GCC as single tourism location

Marriott Hotels' delegates at the international group's stand at the ATM.

Joint tourism promotion by the six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states is the key to creating an attractive product in the region for international travellers, Oman's Commerce and Industry Minister Maqbool bin Ali Sultan said.

The GCC states, which are striving to steer their economies away from a dependence on oil revenues, must initiate winning marketing strategies to promote the Gulf as a single tourist destination, he told the sixth Arabian Travel Market (ATM) conference at Al Bustan Palace Hotel in Muscat.

Sayyid Haitham bin Tareq Al Said, Secretary-General of Oman's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presided over the conference attended by ministers, key government officials of the GCC states and prominent tourism industry representatives.

Maqbool said the world was witnessing increasing competition in the tourism market and there was a strong international trend towards forming geographical and regional tourism entities that can be marketed as one tourist destination.

He said one factor behind this trend was the inclination of international travellers to get greater satisfaction by visiting more than one country in the same region which also made the trip more cost-effective.

Another factor was alliances between national airlines whereby promotion campaigns were held for all member countries of the alliance, Maqbool said.

The first ATM conference had set the basic principles of Arab and Gulf integration in tourism, he said.

And GCC states have shown increasing commitment to the objectives of the conference and have acquired more experience and confidence in this field, he added. Among the positive aspects of the Gulf region's experience is the movement of citizens within some of the GCC countries with their identity cards.

Residents also can also travel between them without being required to have a prior entry visa.