LONDON — The United Kingdom has announced a new £10 ($12.54) Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) visa scheme for Gulf Corporation Council and Jordanian nationals visiting the European country, making travel to the island more affordable for millions in the Middle East.
Previously, Gulf nationals paid £30 ($37.63) per visit to the UK, while Jordanians paid £100 ($125.42) for a visitor visa.
GCC states include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
In June 2022, Britain introduced an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) scheme, which allowed GCC citizens to apply for authorization to travel to Britain online for £30. An EVW allows people to visit the UK for up to six months for tourism, business, study or medical treatment.
The scheme will be implemented for Qatari nationals in October and for the rest of the GCC states and Jordan in February 2024.
“Under this, applicants will be able to apply for a visa online that covers multiple visits over a two-year period,” British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton told Arab News. “The cost will be just £10 per applicant. This will make it much easier and cheaper to travel.”
To apply for the ETA, applicants need to upload a photograph of themselves and answer a set of questions online.
The British Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, Tariq Ahmad, said in a statement that he was “delighted” that Gulf and Jordanian nationals will be first to benefit from the new ETA scheme.
“This scheme is further proof of the strong partnership between the UK and countries across the region,” he said.
“By cutting costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will ensure visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan can enjoy traveling with ease to the UK, boosting business and tourism links between our countries,” Ahmad added.
While Middle Eastern countries have been the first to benefit, the UK Home Office says the new ETA will eventually be available to more than 60 nationalities.
According to the Home Office, 790,000 people from GCC countries visited the UK in 2022, spending $2.5 billion during their stay.
UK Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch traveled to the Gulf last month to speak with GCC counterparts about a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain.