VisitBritain has welcomed the introduction of a new visa free scheme for visitors to the UK from the Gulf.
From January 2014 residents from Omar, Qatar and the UAE will be able to obtain an electronic visa waiver (EVW) to travel to the UK. The new EVW is free of charge and is a fast alternative the visit visa application.
Those eligible for the EVW will be able to travel to the UK after completing and printing an online form 48 hours before travel.
It is intended that the quick visa process will be extended to Kuwait during 2014.
CEO of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe commented: "Last year saw a record 37 per cent increase in the value of Gulf residents’ spending in Britain - that’s also a record average of £3,555 per visitor.
"We know there is already a huge aspiration to travel to Britain to enjoy our attractions and events, so we’re delighted the recent visa changes will make it easier to get here, and to come more often. If current trends continue, we are set to see another record year for Arab visitors in 2013."
In the past year, the number of business visitors and tourists from the Middle East requiring a visit visa has risen by 29%. Globally, visit visas to the UK have increased by 15%.
UKVI has made a number of improvements to the visa system in the last year in order to attract more business travellers and visitors to the UK. For example, announcing same-day visa services and mobile visa service in India and China and the further rollout of premium services such as the three to five-day visa processing.