Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar Airways have announced that Qatar will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, effective immediately – but Ireland and the UK are in a separate list to those of other EU countries.
Nationals of 33 countries, including most EU countries but excluding Ireland and the UK, will 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.
Nationals of 47 other countries, including Ireland and the UK, will 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.
Asked by Irish Travel Trade News why Ireland was not included in the 180-day waiver list along with other EU countries, ITTN was told: “The selection of these 80 countries and their categorisation into two groups was based on a joint study between QTA, Ministry of Interior and Qatar Airways. The study examined regional benchmarks which showed how facilitated these nationalities are in neighbouring countries. We also looked at how accessible Qatar is to these countries via Qatar Airways’ current routes as well as future expansion plans. Some of the decisions were based on bilateral agreements between Qatar’s government and its counterparts, as well as the principle of reciprocity. QTA and its partners will continuously review the list of countries and their categorisation on an ongoing basis and updates will be reflected on our website.”
These developments come as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last month, Qatar 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 Co-operation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), the UK, the USA, 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.
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive, said: “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.”
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer, QTA, said that 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 by the country’s leadership 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,” he said. “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.
“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.”
Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq, Director General, Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs, Ministry of Interior, added: “We are very pleased to announce that nationals of 80 countries are now eligible for a visa waiver and can enter Qatar without requiring any prior 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.”
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 2017, QTA launched +Qatar, an initiative to promote the country as a stopover destination, with the national carrier, Qatar Airways. These measures, along with intensified international marketing, have resulted in a 39% increase in the number of stopover visitors during the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period last year.
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.
(A) Nationals of the following 33 countries will 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.
- Czech Republic
(B) Nationals of the following 47 countries will 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.
- Costa Rica
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Vatican City