As Qatar works to reposition itself as a key tourist destination, a number of local hotel officials have urged authorities to make it easier for visitors to come here on holiday from emerging markets such as China and South America.
During a recent hospitality summit held in Doha, managers running some of Qatar’s leading hotels expressed concern about the restrictions some visitors face when trying to come to the country.
While there is a visa-on-arrival system in place for citizens of 33 nations, the list does not include some key emerging tourist markets such as China, India and South American countries.
Visitors from these areas and several other nations must apply in advance for permission to come to Qatar, according to the Ministry of Interior (MoI).
This can be either be done through a friend or relative already living in Qatar, or through a hotel based here that is accredited by the MOI.
Calls for reform
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Hotelier Middle East Qatar Hospitality Summit last week, a number of people in the local hotel industry said that easing of current restrictions would attract more visitors to Qatar from emerging markets.
Hotelier Middle East’s website quotes Zeinab Hammoud, director of sales and marketing of Governor West Bay Suites & Residences, as saying at the discussion: “From China, there are a lot of people that want to come and Brazil is really growing, but visas are not easy to get.”
One proposal to tackle the issue included creating a separate visa categories for tourists, the website reports Safak Guvenc, general manager W Doha & Residences, as saying.
Last year, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) unveiled its new strategy to attract up to 7.4 million annual visitors to the state by 2030.
That’s more than twice the number of tourists who currently come to Qatar.
Some 2.83 million visitors made the trip here last year, up 8.2 percent on the previous year and nearly double the number who visited in 2009, according to figures released by QTA in February this year.
There was also a 20 percent increase in visitors from Asian countries, who at 782,904 people made up the second-largest segment after tourists from GCC countries last year.
Since a doubling of tourists happened from 2009 to 2014, Qatar should expect a further doubling to 7 million by at least 2020 rather than 2030 which is a really long time…easing visa restrictions should help reach the target..
And if they don’t like it they can leave!
standard Gulf Arab attitude….
Well I don’t think that is a good idea, many Asian nationalities will use it as a way to get into the country especially people from India and Pakistan and then spend their time trying to get a job or bring elderly relatives and then dump them on the health system.
Anyway if you have the money you can get visas for tourist purposes anyway, regardless of nationality.
Deleting for being stereotypical. Can you please rephrase?
Sorry but I disagree. It’s a fact. The 33 countries on the visa waiver can come no problem and those from Asian that have money can come as well. Facts are not stereotyping.
I’m also sick and tired of one of my staff telling me that his brothers cousin is looking for a job and only has on week left on his visitor visa, please help sir he is desperate he has no money to live in Qatar. He should not have come on the first place, he should have applied from his own country. In my experience 100% over 10 years have been Asian nationalities, again that is a fact not stereotyping.
It is unfortunate the your south Asian subordinate perceive you as an western expat to provide greater opportunity guess that is a talent you lack in providing opportunities as far as health care system goes I believe there is mandatory insurance that covers it anyways none of these expats would end up beating the health care workers
Well can you blame them for trying?! If you were in his shoes with no money and probably a family to support would you not try every option? After all the risks of applying in their homecountry and getting trapped by agents before realizing what happened. I don’t blame them at all for coming here and trying to find a job.
I must agree
The US has no universal healthcare either. Maybe you guys should put visa requirements on their nationals too?
Tourists? Visions of millions of Chinese and South Americans wanting to visit Qatar and all it’s attractions? Not really. Not sure the transparency afforded by separate tourist visas would be welcomed by the Qatar Tourist Board – better to keep the figures muddled so they can keep on talking up tourism.
We applied for a tourist visa for my Step-Daughter who wanted to visit from The Philippines during her school holiday. We couldn’t get the family visa in time as we didn’t have her birth certificate endorsed by the Qatar Embassy in Manila. We asked a hotel to get a tourist visa for us and after a 2 week wait the visa was “not approved” – result one disappointed 12 year old step-daughter and less income for shops, restaurants and attractions as we would have shown her the town.
Yes, let’s ease the restrictions and attract all the tourists we can to come to Qatar. If something happens to them, get’s killed on the road by a rampaging LC for example or crushed by a fallen section of the mall’s roof, it will be they’re fault for coming to Qatar anyway.
How will this EVER be a tourist destination for anyone other than Saudis looking for relative openness?
Easing tourist visa restrictions will only flood the country with people taking their chances on landing a job here.
The logic that the tourists from this 33 countries are good tourists and they can have visa on arrival while the others from China, India, South Africa, Brazil, etc have to go through the whole process does not make sense. Some of this excluded countries are the ones that contribute a massive amount of business to this very countries that want to treat them differently. Just imagine persons like Jack Ma or Mukesh Ambani being treated the same way at the borders just because they don’t hold one of those fancy passports. After all whether its the Chinese, the Indians, the Americans or the British they all pay the same amount of money for the rooms and services at the fancy hotels around town or correct me if the others have a 40 per cent discount because they come from the Third world countries
The rich Asians will get into Qatar easily, this is to stop the literally millions of poor Asians flooding the country either looking for work, working illegally or begging.
Why would the rich Chinese, Indians, Russians, etc, bother getting “easily” into Qatar when they can get much easier into Dubai? Never mind better shopping, less restrictions, more to see and do, and so on and so forth…
Excellent point! Qataries themselves go to Dubai every time they can. And obviously I don’t blame them. Some say though that Dubai betrayed or gave up (I’ve heard this argument often) on islamic values but still they love to go and enjoy their time there.
I 100% support the visa scheme of Qatar! Holders of “fancy passports” like me, deserve the special treatment because we’re just special 🙂
Yes the Qatar should ease visa restrictions like UAE to attract more and more visitors from various countries including Pakistan. Staying beyond visa limit is not easy for any visitor so if a visitor gets a job there obviously his employer will sponsor him and get him a work visa & residence permit also. Ikram Ul Haq BHATTI
But you should have a job before you come.
Exactly what is it that is going to attract all of these tourists anyway? Since I arrived in Qatar the activities that Chinese and South American tourist like to engage in have actually become more restricted, not to mention the ‘Reflect your Respect’ campaign. It seems to me that some members of the ‘establishment’ are actually trying to discourage tourism.
Obviously what some expats always fail to understand is that Qatar is not willing to compromise its values to please them. This is conservative country with restrictions on alcohol and dress. If you think that you can discover a new country only when you are drunk and half naked then please stay home. Qatar does not need you and it is clearly the wrong place for you.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. With all the restrictions imposed, combined with limited sightseeing attractions, most of the tourists are going to be Saudis, transit passengers, family members and friends. Open up, or risk having a lot of half-full hotels and that pathetic sightseeing bus running as empty as a rental compound owner’s soul.
Itsn’t me that wants to develop tourism in Qatar.
Yes Qatar can develop tourism without taking you as a target audience. Qatar doesn’t need your money.
And what the Qataris promoting all this tourism fail to understand is that “if you build it, they will come” is not a sufficient tourism strategy. The world market for tourist dollars is extremely competitive, and any destination has to cater to some segment of demand. Perhaps that could be called “comprising its values,” but sometimes that’s what it takes to provide a service that people want to buy.
As you say below, Qatar doesn’t need tourists’ money. So why is it do desperate to attract it? Ego, I guess, but then they will have to comprise to satisfy that ego. Or take the route of places like Kuwait or Brunei — rich countries that don’t care about tourists or about foreign investment (other than the oil and gas needed to make them rich), and hence have to compromise much less.
good post…ego is the answer ..why else stage a World cup?
Remember that although Qatar may not have many attractions to visit, the culture is very different to those of the visitors and can be the only attraction needed. Admittedly you may need deep pockets to submerse yourself in it.
Sorry, all tourists go to Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina, Festival City or other developed places. Why go to ‘The Pearl’ area?