Business destinations in the EU are now on the cusp of an influx of business travellers from the UAE, after the European Parliament voted for Emiratis to be exempt from obtaining visas to visit any of the 25 Schengen countries.
“A further announcement will be made regarding the execution of the decision, but effectively this means Emiratis will be able to travel freely to 25 countries in the EU for periods of up to 90 days without a visa,” said Lois Hall, exhibition manager of the Gulf Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings Expo.
The event takes which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre today.
After a similar decision by the UK to relax visa requirements for UAE nationals (online visa applications 48 hours in advance), the stage is set for a whole new chapter of business travel from the region, certainly if the scheme is extended to other Gulf nations.
Ready to benefit from the new ruling at this year’s GIBTM, is the European pavilion, which contains 19 companies and destinations, and is 66 per cent larger than last year.
Debutants include companies such as Spain’s Iberostar, Barcelo Hotels and Resorts, I’way Express from the Czech Republic, Talaria Experience from Madrid, as well as Arsenal Football Club.
France alone receives over 22,000 visitors from the UAE, each year, and according to an exclusive Ernst & Young report which is to be revealed at GIBTM, Paris is the most preferred destination for Middle Eastern business travellers.
London comes in at number two and Frankfurt at number five.
The report also forecasts an acceleration in business travel, both inbound, and outbound from the Middle East region.
“Over 66 per cent of the world’s population lies within an eight hour flight of UAE, giving the region unparalleled leverage to become the future global hub for business travelers,” said Hall.