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‘MOVE MAY HIT TRADE, TOURISM’

Bahrain to increase visa fees from October

Manama, August 20, 2014

Visa fees are set to increase for everyone entering Bahrain from October, excluding labourers and domestic workers.

This was announced by the Interior Ministry's General Directorate for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs yesterday (August 19), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

The new fees will apply to all visas-on-arrival - and their renewals - for all visitors, including GCC residents.

"The increase comes as part of the NPRA's efforts to improve its services and make the issuance of visas easier," the directorate said.

Trade wary of increase

Meanwhile, hoteliers and businessmen have warned that an increase in visa fees planned for later this year could damage trade and tourism.

"We do not have the information yet on how much the visa fees are going to increase, but if it is marginal then its fair," said Four Star Hotel Committee chairman Hameed Al Halwachi.

"Bahrain needs inbound business however and we should not - at this stage - be looking at increasing costs."

Al Hawachi called on the government to consult with various organisations, such as the hotels committees, before making sweeping decisions that could affect so many sectors of the economy.

"We would like to sit and share our views with them," he said.

Meanwhile, Manama Suq committee vice-chairman Mahmood Al Namliti predicted that the business community would have mixed reactions to a fees increase.

"I personally do not understand what is happening, as on the one hand we are revising our visa policy to allow more people to visit the country and then, on the other, we increase the visa fees," he said.

He was referring to a decision announced last month that Bahrain would be extending its visa-on-arrival facility to nationals of nearly 100 countries.

"We welcome the fact the new visa fees do not apply to labourers and domestic workers, but one should also not forget that Bahrain needs new projects and more tourists," he added.

According to the Economic Development Board, the new visa-on-arrival policy to be implemented next year has the potential to attract more than 2.5 billion people, who will be able to obtain a one-month visa with the ability to renew it for another three months.

Changing trends in the country's investor base, including a 58 per cent increase in the number of international investors who own businesses in Bahrain, 50 per cent rise in Arab investors and 17 per cent in non-residence equity owners between 2005 and 2012, was given as the reason for the move. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | business | Visa | increase | Trade | fees |

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