Tourist Visa regulations for Oman have just been revised by the issuing authority, the Royal Oman Police, on both effective price and period.
Previously a 10 day tourist visa was available, on demand at the airport for many nationalities, it cost Rial Omani 5 (USDollar13) (or 6/7 Rials depending on various issues – even on official websites the cost varied) and was last officially revised in 2010. Today the (only) tourist visa stay length is for a continual period of 1 month (there is a possibility of 1 year multiple visits with forward organisation validity might happen for these ) and the cost of this length remains unchanged at Rial Omani 20 (USDollar52). This change in the length of stay possible from 10 days up to 1 month along with the payment required will immediately increase revenues for the Oman Government. It may however impact on weekend visits from the UAE and other Gulf states and the other tourists whose visits were for less than 10 days (see below) since currently this month period does not allow for several visits within it.
There seems to have been no change in the visa system for 217,000 cruise passengers (full year end of 2016) who currently can enter with no visa payment for a period of nor more than 48 hours.
The largest proportion of Oman’s total 3.0million visits in full year 2016 (according to www.ncsi.gov.om and using the last available 2014 % breakdown for the following) are to visit family & friends 38.7%, with tourism visits at 34.3%, 18.7% was a business visit (8.3% not detailed – are presumably official visitors). Within these visits 27% was for a single day (this includes the cruise visitors whose typical visit if for 9 or 10 hours) so 72.4% of all visitors stayed more than one night. Within the longer period visits the average night stay was an average of 7.4 nights per tourist, well within the previous 10 day period.
The change in visa charge and period will presumably affect the proportion of the 27% day visits who are not the cruise visitors the most, these may have been a simple day trip for leisure or the common exit from the UAE and immediate re-entry needed for some types of UAE visa renewal. What is unclear is if it will encourage longer visits into Oman, which may be impossible given that tourists need to fit these into their own holiday schedule if they work. What of course cannot be determined, for the moment, is if it will encourage longer visits into Oman or reduce numbers. Given that tourists need to fit visits into their own holiday schedule if they work, one hopes that all areas affected by this change have been considered.
The Royal Oman Police is also moving forward with an on-line visa application system as well as a process to allow visitors from Iran, India, China and Russia to enter Oman. This 4 country system will be through 4&5 star hotels & tourist offices who, under a bond payment of Rial Omani5,000 (per period not per tourist), can sponsor a tourist. This is a similar system to one that has been operated under a Rial Omani 10,000 payment.