The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently updated its visa openness rankings, confirming Qatar’s new visa facilitation improvements including allowing nationals of 88 countries to enter Qatar visa-free and free-of-charge. According to the report 2018, Qatar has become the most open country in the Middle East and the 8th most open in the world in terms of visa facilitation.
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.
“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,” said Hassan Al Ibrahim, Qatar Tourism Authority’s chairman.
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.
UNWTO measures the mobility of citizens based on their ability to travel seamlessly to other countries. 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.
On June 3, 2019 citizens and guests of Helsinki could witness a historic event, an opening of the first Signature hotel by Scandic in Finland – Marski. This hotel was part of regular Scandic hotels, however having historic value; but on this day a new chapter of Marski hotel has been written.
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On September 9-13, 2019 twenty-third session of the UNWTO General Assembly took place in Saint Petersburg. This important global meeting of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives of the year was organized for the first time in Russia. TOHOLOGY visited main events of the General Assembly and shares its photography overview.