UAE travel agents in the dark over new visa rules

Low-paid expats to no longer be granted tourism and conference visas

Sunil D'Souza, Kanoo Travel
Sunil D'Souza, Kanoo Travel

UAE travel agents are still in the dark regarding the federal government’s decision to tighten up on the issuing of tourism and conference visas to low paid workers, but believed the move would have little impact on their business.

This week it was announced that expatriates from certain countries, mainly in Asia, would be banned from getting tourist, visit or conference visas.

The policy is designed to curb the number of low paid workers entering the country and partaking in begging and other activities which authorities want to clamp down on.

However, travel agents Arabian Business spoke to said they had not been informed of the policy change. “We have not heard anything officially from them as of now,” said Sunil D'souza, regional travel director for the UAE, Oman and Qatar at Kanoo Travel.

Basel Abu Alrub, managing partner at the Dubai-based Utravel agency said the company had also not received any “official communiqué,” but believed it would not have any major negative impact on business.

“As a rule of thumb, our agency carefully analyses each applicant before approving their application for submission to the immigration department in order to avoid risks such as misbehaviour during the tourists’ stay or overstaying which results in heavy financial charges on the issuing agent,” he said.

“If an applicant is felt to possess ulterior intentions besides tourism then we do not engage them in issuing a tourist visa for them. In some other cases, agents are advised to request a financial security deposit which is to be refunded after the tourist leaves the country with no issues,” he added.

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