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Saudi Arabia unveils plans to reduce hassle of international travel


Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced a Harmonising Air Travel policy, which it says will make international travel to the Kingdom “simpler, easier and more enjoyable by removing the confusion over travel requirements currently discouraging millions of people from booking flights”.

Designed in co-operation with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the proposed framework will eradicate international travel confusion for passengers, carriers and governments by creating a single, clear, up-to-date online resource setting out requirements for entry to all participating countries.

The policy will be submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) General Assembly with the objective of receiving approval from Member States in October of this year.

“The pandemic exposed how disconnected the world really is. Our research shows that many people chose not to travel in 2021 – and will not travel in 2022 – because of confusing health requirements to get from country to country,” revealed GACA’s president, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Duailej.

“We are delighted to launch the Harmonising Air Travel policy, a proposed framework that will unify and strengthen our industry by enabling it to navigate future health crises.

“Aviation is the lifeblood of the global economy, and it is crucial to safeguard it from future disruption. The Harmonising Air Travel policy framework demonstrates the leadership role Saudi Arabia is taking to ensure that the sector thrives in the years to come.”

It points out that according to recent YouGov research, currently 32% of Americans, 47% of people in the Gulf, 40% of people in Italy and 40% of people in the UK say confusion over health requirements will prevent them from travelling in 2022.

GACA is confident that the policy will create a harmonised international reporting mechanism for health crises using purpose-built digital communications tools, world-class governance and coordination processes, and a system that will facilitate universal compliance, such as a globally-recognised Digital Health certificate.

As a result, it says, travellers will have access to clear guidelines and requirements needed to get from origin to arrival. The universal platform will be able to integrate all existing international aviation and government-to-government health crises communication systems.   

Saudi Arabia has bold plans to become “the pre-eminent hub” in the Middle East, and as a result it plans to support $100 billion worth of investment in the aviation sector by 2030.

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