Qatar expands free transit visa stay to 96 hours for all nationalities
26 Sep 2016 - 16:02
Doha: Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar Airways and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior announced today a revised tourism visa scheme available to passengers transiting through Doha in a move to promote Qatar as a world-class stopover destination.
The new transit visa structure now allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days), without the requirement to apply ahead of time for an entry visa.
This is a significant increase from the previous transit visa scheme, which allowed travellers with a minimum layover of eight hours to spend a maximum of 48 hours (two days) in Qatar. This increase is designed to make stopovers easier and more attractive to Qatar Airways’ global passengers, and aims to deliver additional value to the local economy while strengthening Qatar’s position as an attractive tourist destination.
The Qatar transit visa is free of charge and available on arrival at Hamad International Airport to passengers of all nationalities, upon confirmation of onward journey and completion of passport control procedures. All visas are approved and issued at the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways serves millions of people from around the world as they journey across our network of more than 150 destinations. Whether travelling for business or leisure, we want to enrich the journey of all of our passengers and are restructuring our fares to reflect this initiative and to promote stopovers to travellers. We are excited to offer our passengers the opportunity to taste the cultural highlights that the city of Doha and the State of Qatar have to offer. We are thankful to the Ministry of Interior and the Qatar Tourism Authority for helping us to create a journey that includes discovering Qatar, an experience that will stay in their hearts and minds forever.”
The development, announced on the eve of World Tourism Day, is the third in a series of enhancements that Qatar has made to facilitate entry into the country for visitors. Last week, officials announced a new process to quicken the entry of tourists arriving on board cruise ships, and earlier, representatives signed an agreement with VFS Global, which will see the development of a new, faster and more transparent tourist visa application mechanism.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai commended Qatar on its rapid advancement in this area. “Promoting visa facilitation is a priority for tourism development worldwide and a key element in the competitiveness of tourism destinations. We congratulate Qatar for announcing, very auspiciously on the occasion of the World Tourism Day, a new milestone change in the country’s transit visa scheme,” he said. “This is the third significant travel facilitation announcement from Qatar in the space of just one month. We are very pleased to see that the work conducted by UNWTO with Qatar on visa facilitation is yielding results and trust that these will certainly result in an increase of visitors to Qatar.”
Director General of the General Directorate of Nationality, Borders and Expatriates Affairs in the Ministry of Interior, Brigadier Abdullah Salim Al-Ali, said: “The Ministry of Interior strives to support the country’s growth and development, while maintaining security for all visitors and residents. We are pleased to further facilitate the movement of the 30 million passengers who pass through Hamad International Airport every year. We welcome them to spend time in Doha and discover Qatari hospitality.”
Qatar Tourism Authority’s Chief Tourism Development Officer, Hassan Al Ibrahim, said: “By offering an enhanced transit visa to passengers travelling through Hamad International Airport, Qatar is providing its visitors a welcoming experience from the moment their planes touch down in Doha until they begin their onward journeys to their final destinations. And, as we celebrate World Tourism Day’s Tourism for All theme, we are delighted to make Qatar more accessible to people from around the world and invite them to discover our country, our cultural heritage and our natural treasures.”
The introduction of a new transit visa scheme is also a step towards positioning Doha as a turn-around port for cruise ships, Al Ibrahim added, noting that in the near future international cruise passengers could fly to Qatar, enter using a transit visa, and begin and end their cruise in Doha. “This will increase the length of stay in Qatar of a growing segment of visitors, and allow them to further explore our country’s tourism offering, while increasing the economic impact of cruise tourism,” he commented.
To maximise on their transit through Qatar, visitors can explore Discover Qatar stopover packages offered by Qatar Airways Holidays. These include, desert safaris, city tours, visits to Katara Cultural Village, Souq Waqif and The Pearl-Qatar island, museum and art gallery visits, architectural tours, and hotel bookings.