Qatar has become the most open country in the
Middle East and the 8th most open in the world in terms of visa
facilitation, according to the World Tourism Organization.
The UNWTO recently
updated its visa openness rankings, confirming Qatar’s recent visa
facilitation improvements including allowing nationals of 88
countries to enter Qatar visa-free and free-of-charge.
Actions Qatar has taken to improve visa facilitation include
introducing an online platform for efficient and transparent visa
processing and e-visas, as well as a free 96-hour transit visa
doubling the time stopover passengers can remain in the country.
As a result of these measures, Qatar’s visa openness ranking
has leapt to 8th in the world from 177th back in 2014.
introduction of these changes, year-on-year arrivals from India
have grown 18%, from China 43% and from Russia a huge 366%. None
of these markets now need a visa to visit Qatar.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Qatar Tourism Authority’s
chairman, said, “Openness and ease of access are crucial elements
of the visitor experience. We have committed to making it a
seamless experience, even as visitors plan their journey. We will
continue to work with our partners on streamlining the immigration
process at Qatar’s ports of entry, as well as ensuring that all
visitor visas and visa procedures are electronic.”
Qatar commissioned a visa facilitation study for the country,
which UNWTO prepared based on its global openness data.
implemented and overachieved the recommendations of the study,
setting an example by spearheading safe and seamless travel,
enhancing the visitor experience and better placing itself to
improve mobility for its citizens,” said UNWTO Secretary-General
Qatar’s travel facilitation improvements coincide with progress
made in visa facilitation worldwide. For example, Belarus recently
made visa-free travel available for 30 days to citizens of 74
countries travelling through Minsk airport. UNWTO’s global visa
openness index score has increased from 31 in 2014 to 37 in 2018.