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.
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.
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.
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.
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.