Visitors from Jordan and the Gulf will be able to enter the UK for just £10 ($12.4) under a new streamlined electronic travel scheme.
The changes unveiled by the British government will see the visa requirement removed for nationals of Jordan and Gulf Co-operation Council states – Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia – who wish to visit the UK. It brings the rules for them in line with those for other visitors, including US and Australian passport holders.
By paying the fee they will be allowed to enter Britain multiple times over a two-year period without further costs.
The new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will replace the existing system for Gulf nationals, who pay £30 per visit under the current Electronic Visa Wavier (EVW) scheme, and Jordanian citizens, who pay £100 for a visit visa.
Qatari nationals will be the first to benefit from the cheaper programme in October, with travellers from other GCC states and Jordan qualifying in February 2024.
The scheme will be further expanded to other countries throughout next year, the Home Office said.
Pre-travel security checks will be conducted on applicants, who will have to provide biographic and biometric details such as a digital photograph and answer a set of suitability questions.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s Minister for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and human rights, said the announcement was evidence of the strong ties between Britain and the countries affected.
“I’m delighted that our partners across the Gulf and Jordan will be the first to benefit from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme,” he said.
“By cutting costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will ensure visitors from the Gulf states and Jordan can enjoy travelling with ease to the UK, boosting business and tourism links between our countries.”
Visitors from the Gulf provide a boost to the UK economy, with more than 790,000 from the region spending £2 billion last year.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick hailed the “huge contribution” Jordanians and Gulf nationals make to Britain’s tourism industry.
The new lower-priced scheme will be “one of the best value in the world compared to similar international schemes”, he said.
Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to introduce a new ETA scheme as part of a digitisation of Britain's border by 2025.
The scheme issues digital permission to travel for those visiting or transiting through the UK who do not need a visa for short stays, or who do not currently hold another UK visa.