The announcement to grant visa-free entry to citizens of 80 countries comes just a year after first steps were taken with the co-operation of Qatar Airways and the Ministry of Interior to facilitate tourist visas to Qatar, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).
The journey to enhance visitor experience began in 2014. QTA, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, conducted a visa facilitation study, which benchmarked Qatar’s policies against regional best practices.
In September 2016, and in partnership with Qatar Airways, QTA signed a pact with VFS Global to create an online platform for processing visa applications.
This platform was formally launched in June this year and a month later, QTA expanded e-visa services to accept applications from travellers to Qatar aboard all airlines, as well as tourism and hospitality establishments in Qatar.
This year also saw the introduction of the free transit visa, allowing passengers of all nationalities transiting in Qatar to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.
Since introducing a transit visa in November 2016, some 60,000 applications have been processed and set to process 200,000 by the end of this year, according to Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker.
He said the demand for transit visas will deliver around 200,000 additional visitors to Doha in the next 12 months, and this growing demand will place Qatar among the most popular destinations for long-haul transit visit. To promote Qatar as a global transit hub, the +Qatar campaign was launched in May.