Muscat: Visitors to Oman should get their visas online to avoid extra charges, according to a source from the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
While the ROP has declared fixed online visa fees, local travel agencies are hiking up the prices.
According to the source, online visa registrations are the safest way to apply for visas because they are fixed.
“If you are a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) resident coming to Oman, it is OMR5, and if you live outside of the GCC its OMR20. We are not raising charges and our prices are fixed,” the source said.
On the other hand, a local travel agency said it had charged the same price for visas, regardless of where the customers were travelling from.
“For those who are not applicable for visa-on-arrival, we charge OMR25. It doesn’t matter if they are a GCC resident or coming from India, it is still OMR25. We also add an OMR8 fee for service charges like the representative going to the airport,” the agent said.
Another travel agent stated that their agency doesn’t believe in making money off of the visa fee, but from the travel package as a whole.
“In normal practices, visa fees are not the core business. It’s just an element in the package and visas are considered added value. If the ROP charges more for visas, then we have to charge more.”
“The number of passengers from China and India is less now because of the price increase. The average tourist stays in Oman for no more than 10 days. Yet, instead of charging them OMR5 for a visa, they are being charged OMR15 more without staying longer,” the agent said.
This is a four-fold increase in the cost of the visa, up from the previous rate of OMR5, which is still the cost of the visa, as listed on the website of the ROP.
This visa-on-arrival is valid for a total of four weeks, and can be extended by an additional week, with a fine of OMR10 levied for each day the visa holders overstay in Oman.
To be eligible for GCC visas-on-arrival, applicants must have more than six months of residency in any of the other GCC nations—Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—and must be outside Oman at the time of application.