DUBAI: Dubai has seen a 79 per cent increase in the number of GCC visitors from June 15 to July 2 this year compared to the same period in 2010, according to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai. The figure reflects tourists’ growing preference of Dubai over other destinations during summer. Senior officials of the Residency and Foreigners Affairs department are of the view that Dubai’s advanced infrastructure and transport network, and the presence of hotels and tourist attractions contributed to the increase, adding that the launch of Dubai Summer Surprises pushed the numbers up. Brigadier Obaid Bin Suroor, deputy director of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai, cleared the misconception on Dubai tourist visa fees being expensive. “On the contrary, the fee for tourist visas to Dubai is one of the lowest in the world. Visitors can avail a one-month tourist visa for just Dhs220 while GCC visitors need to pay only Dhs185. The visa can also be extended beyond one month,” he added. Colonel Khalifa Mattar Mubarak, general director of Port Affairs, said, “Staff at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai number 1,700 and they undergo numerous workshops and training courses in security, customer service, and detection of fraud. We strive to maintain the highest standards of accuracy given that thousands of visitors pass through Dubai every day.” Khalifa also said that the department was gearing to launch the electronic visa service for GCC residents who would be able to apply for visas online and receive visa status updates on their mobile phones. The service would be launched by the end of this year, he said, adding that the initiative was part of the department’s efforts in using technology to facilitate faster processing of visas.