Friday, 8th March 2013

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Govt eases visas for Moroccan visitors

 Moroccans with Schengen multiple entry visas will be allowed into Gibraltar for a maximum of 21 days without the needs to apply for any special entry permission, from this week onwards.

 This change is a result of Gibraltar amending its Immigration, Asylum and Refugee Act so as to waive visa requirements for nationals of specified countries, the first individuals to benefit from this change will be Moroccan nationals holding valid Schengen multiple entry visas.

Prior to this amendment Moroccans with Schengen visas were permitted to enter Gibraltar only on a case-by case basis with most of the successful applications being permitted only on compassionate grounds.

The Gibraltar Government said “it is hoped that this change to the Immigration Act will encourage more business and commerce to be conducted between Gibraltar and Morocco and will promote Gibraltar as a tourist destination in the Kingdom.”

The Immigration Act changes coincide with this week’s launch of negotiations between the EU and Morocco for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) which Foreign Secretary William Hague said would bring closer economic integration between Morocco and the EU single market.

Speaking about the changes the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said: “Gibraltar has had a long and rich relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco and its people. For many years, however, we have failed to progress the relationship from the provision of labour by Moroccan nationals, without which Gibraltar would not have survived the blockade of the late 60s, 70s and 80s.”

Recalling his speech at the ceremonial opening of Parliament in December 2011, where he said the Government are keen to develop modern tourism, trade and business links with Morocco and its people, Mr Picardo said “this action is an important first step in that direction.”

The Government hope that the changes will facilitate visits to Gibraltar by Moroccan nationals for tourism, leisure or business purposes.

In addition the Government said that as part of this initiative they will be promoting Gibraltar in Morocco more widely in main cities such as Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech.

“I very much look forward to welcoming visitors from Morocco to Gibraltar and to working more closely with commercial entities in the Kingdom,” said Mr Picardo.

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