- Number of nationalities eligible to enter visa-free highest in region
- Qatar considering further enhancements to visa policy, including waiver for holders of visa/resident permit for GCC and Schengen countries, as well as from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
Qatar will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, effective immediately, Qatari officials announced today. These countries include the UK, the USA, Canada, India, South Africa, Seychelles, Australia and New Zealand.
The announcement was made at a press conference held today (9 August 2017) at Oryx Rotana Doha by Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways.
Citizens of these countries wishing to visit Qatar need not apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.
Depending on the nationality of the visitor, the waiver will either be valid for 180 days, and allow the visitor to spend a total of 90 days in Qatar (multiple-entry); or it will be valid for 30 days and entitle the visitor to spend up to 30 days in Qatar (multiple-entry) with the possibility of applying for an extension of the waiver for an additional 30 days.*
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority said:
With 80 nationalities eligible for a free visa waiver upon arrival, Qatar is now the most open country in the region and we are delighted to invite visitors to discover our renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.’
In November 2016, Qatar introduced a free transit visa, which allows passengers of all nationalities transiting in Qatar for a minimum of five hours to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days). In May this year, QTA and Qatar Airways launched +Qatar, a package which includes a free night’s stay in a 5- or 4- star hotel in Doha, alongside a complimentary transit visa.
These developments come as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last month, Qatar also launched an e-visa platform, www.qatarvisaservice.com, through which travellers of all nationalities can apply for tourist and visitor visas with more efficiency and ease.
The country is also considering further enhancements to its visa policy, such as waiving visa requirements for holders of a residence permit or a valid visa from the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the Schengen countries. This waiver would allow eligible visitors to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation by completing a simple online application at least 48 hours prior to travel.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said that today’s announcement places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region.
This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in region, which is something that we are very proud of.
Qatar Airways is the patriotic flag carrier for the State of Qatar and as such we are extremely honoured to bring millions of people each year to our beautiful, welcoming and historic country. This important initiative from the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Tourism Authority will provide an opportunity to welcome even more visitors, from even more countries, to experience the many exciting attractions that await them.’
According to Al Ibrahim, visa facilitation is a critical component of the national tourism sector strategy, which QTA is currently reviewing in partnership with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. With renewed focus on diversifying the national economy, a revised strategy which empowers various players to boost the growth of tourism is set to be launched on 27 September 2017, when Qatar hosts the official celebrations of World Tourism Day.
Easing entry to Qatar is a key enabler for the growth of Qatar’s tourism industry. With this announcement we are already turning the pages of the Next Chapter of Qatar’s journey towards 2030. Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have examined all of the elements needed to create a smooth and enticing experience that can attract visitors from around the world. There is no doubt that facilitating and streamlining access at all ports of entry are key factors in creating a positive first and lasting impression of Qatar.’
Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq, Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs at MoI added that they are very pleased to announce the new visa arrangements.
Together with our partners at QTA and Qatar Airways, we have been working to enhance our country’s visa policies and implement solutions to better facilitate travel to Qatar. Further enhancements are being studied and we look forward to announcing them in due course.’
As part of Qatar Airways’ and QTA’s combined efforts to boost tourism in the country, the award-winning airline has accelerated its global expansion plans, and recently announced the launch of a number of new destinations that it is adding to its network by the end of August including Kiev, Ukraine and Prague, Czech Republic. Yesterday, the airline launched Sohar, in the Sultanate of Oman. Qatar Airways also recently launched a direct service to Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France; and Skopje, connecting even more people to more places, and making it easier than ever for passengers to visit Qatar as part of their journey.
*Entry to Qatar is approved at the sole discretion of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior.
With additional report from The Peninsula.