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Tue, 4 Sept 2018

Qatar’s Global Visa Openness Ranking Jumps to 8th from 177th in 2014

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.

Doha, Qatar. Picture from Qatar Airways. Click to enlarge.

As a result of these measures, Qatar’s visa openness ranking has leapt to 8th in the world from 177th back in 2014.

 Since the 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.”

In 2014, Qatar commissioned a visa facilitation study for the country, which UNWTO prepared based on its global openness data.

“Qatar has 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 Zurab Pololikashvili. 

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.

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