Qatar Offers Visa-Free Entry to Citizens of 80 Countries
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Gulf Times -- Citizens of 80 countries can now enter Qatar visa-free, making it the most open country in the region, the Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways announced on Wednesday.
Instead of applying for a visa, citizens of these countries who want to visit Qatar will be given a multiple-entry waiver for free at the port of entry. The countries include the UK, the US, Seychelles, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, India, and South Africa.
Speaking at a press conference in Doha, Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker stated that the citizens of these 80 countries will be able enter the country “with no paper work, no payment and no visas.”
“This historic announcement comes at a time of historic significance. While some countries in the region have taken to closing their skies and their borders, Qatar has instead opened its borders to more freely welcoming visitors from all corners of the world,” he said.
“Many of these visitors who otherwise may not have considered a stay in our beautiful country will no doubt go on to share their experience with others. These new ambassadors will be vital to achieving our target of over 7mn tourists by the year 2030,” added al-Baker, who was joined by QTA’s chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim and the MoI’s Airport Passports Department director Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Rashid al-Mazroui at the media conference.
Citizens of 33 countries (first batch) will be eligible for a multiple-entry waiver valid for 180 days, allowing them to stay for up to 90 days in Qatar.
Meanwhile, citizens of 47 countries (second batch) can obtain a 30-day visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar. It allows the holder to spend up to 30 days in the country but can be extended for another 30 days. Entry to Qatar is approved at the sole discretion of the MoI.
Visa facilitation forms an important part of the national tourism sector strategy, which QTA and its partners are now reviewing, according to al-Ibrahim.
“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,” he said.
Al-Ibrahim noted that the 80 countries have been carefully selected based on the quality of the tourists and their spending ability, in addition to security considerations.
The current list will undergo periodic review to update it in the future if needed, according to the senior QTA official.
“With 80 countries eligible for a visa waiver, 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,” he stressed.
Citing a renewed focus by the country’s leadership on diversifying the national economy, al-Ibrahim announced that a revised tourism strategy is scheduled to be launched on September 27, when Qatar hosts the official celebrations of World Tourism Day.
Qatar 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 GCC citizens (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the Schengen countries.
According to QTA, 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.
The full list of nationalities:
1. Nationals of the 33 countries listed below do not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar. The waiver will be valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips.
7. Czech Republic
2. Nationals of the 47 countries listed below do not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar. The waiver will be valid for 30 days from the date of issuance and entitle its holder to spend up to 30 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips. This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.
31. New Zealand
36. San Marino
38. South Africa
39. South Korea
43. United Kingdom
44. United States
46. Vatican City
13. Costa Rica
18. Hong Kong