Browsing 'qatar tourism authority' News

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar has made it easier for more people to secure visit visas to the country through a new Electronic Travel Authorization system.

Starting Sept. 27, visitors of any nationality who hold valid residence permits or visas from the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Schengen or GCC countries can secure 30-day visit visas to Qatar.

The visas can be applied for online here, and extended for a second month through the same website.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced the plan while opening a new office in China this week.

The move comes as the nation struggles to woo more tourists amid a months-long blockade by its neighbors that has hit the hospitality industry.

It also follows Qatar’s recent decision to allow visa-free travel for some 80 nationalities.

In a statement, chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim said:

“This additional enhancement to our visa policy is a testament to my country’s commitment to openness, and to championing the right to tourism for all people…

“Adopting this kind of openness and freedom of movement is surely the best way to enhance acceptance and openness between cultures.”

Terms and conditions

To visit Qatar under the new system, applicants will need to present:

  • Itinerary (ie in the form of round-trip plane tickets);
  • Proof of accommodation (such as hotel bookings);
  • Passport copy (with a minimum validity of six months); and
  • A copy of their residence permit or visa (with a minimum validity of 30 days) to the previously mentioned countries.

There is no charge for the ETA, but there is a US$14 service fee to apply for one.

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If a visitor leaves the country and wishes to return, he or should would need to apply for a new ETA before traveling back to Qatar.

Visitors can apply for the ETA and find more information about it here.

Tourism woes

The new visa policies should help boost Qatar’s tourism numbers, which have taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt began their boycott in June.

This is problematic because tourism is a key part of Qatar’s economic diversification plan, as it tries to move away from oil and gas.

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According to government figures, the number of visitors from the GCC fell 18 percent in July.

On a positive note, however, they also showed an increase of visitors from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic at Hamad International Airport dipped sharply in June, the latest figures available.

Thoughts?

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Travelers who choose to stop over in Doha this summer while flying Qatar Airways will now get one free night’s stay at a luxury hotel, the airline has announced.

Participating venues include The Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana. A second night’s stay at some hotels would cost only $50, officials said.

However, this doesn’t apply to all venues. The Four Seasons for example, told Doha News that the second night would cost more.

The offer comes as the country struggles to attract visitors amid growing competition and a down market.

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

It also follows the November rollout of free transit visas for Qatar Airways passengers who are in Doha for five to 96 hours.

Transit traffic

Last year, government figures showed that seven out of every 10 travelers using Qatar’s airport were just passing through, and are not living in or visiting the country.

Fadi Benne

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In a statement, a senior Qatar Tourism Authority official (QTA) said this is changing thanks to the new visas.

There was a 53 percent increase in stopover visitors last month, compared to March 2016, Chief Tourism Development Officer Hassan Al-Ibrahim said, adding:

“We aim to convert a larger portion of the 30 million passengers passing through Hamad International Airport into stopover visitors.

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.”

Terms and conditions

According to Qatar Airways’ website, tickets for this promotion must be booked by Aug. 31.

But the hotel stay can be used until Sept. 30. However, the offer is not available during either Eid Al Fitr or Eid Al Adha holidays.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

First and business class passengers can book one free night at a five-star hotel, and economy travelers can book at a four-star one.

Visitors should be able to schedule their stay online after confirming their “multi-city” flight on Qatar Airways‘ website.

A minimum transiting time of 12 hours is required to use the offer, which is not available to those who book codeshare flights.

Transit visas can also be booked online here, and just like the hotel offer must be done at least seven working days prior to travel.

Other terms and conditions can be found here.

By the numbers

QTA has not released any official tourism figures since the third quarter of last year. At that time, it announced a year-on-year drop in visitors.

However, it’s likely that things have not improved much since then.

Last month, local hoteliers said urgent action must be taken to protect the future of tourism in Qatar.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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Amid falling occupancy and room rates, some hotel managers suggested new food and beverage offerings could help boost their bottom lines.

Officials may also be hoping that visitors who aren’t paying for their hotel stays or visas this summer will spend more money on shopping, city tours and desert safaris.

Thoughts?

QTA

The MSC Fantasia

More than 3,000 tourists are expected to visit Qatar today after two cruise ships dock at Doha Port.

This is the first time officials will welcome two vessels simultaneously. They are the MSC Fantasia and the Crystal Esprit.

Authorities did not say when the ships would dock, but according to CruiseMapper, the MSC Fantasia will be in Doha from 8am to 6pm, before moving onto Bahrain.

Frederik/Red Horn Photography

The Museum of Islamic Art is a popular tourist attraction

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) officials said the occasion gives the country a chance to show how well-prepared it is to handle large groups of tourists.

In a statement, Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s Chief Tourism Development Officer, said:

“This is one of many firsts that the cruise industry in Qatar is witnessing this season, thanks to it being the largest one to date and the first in which Qatar will receive as many as 50,000 cruise visitors.

Expect crowds

The MSC Fantasia is the largest passenger ship ever to sail into Qatar, and made its maiden voyage here earlier this month.

Hundreds of the ship’s 3,000 passenger and 1,300 crew members could be seen hanging out on the Corniche, visiting the Museum of Islamic Art and checking out Souq Waqif during that visit.

The vessel is scheduled to return to Qatar four more times this cruise season.

The 100m long Crystal Esprit, a 62-passenger luxury yacht, also made its maiden call to Qatar earlier this month.

Thoughts?