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.
According to the latest analysis from the World Tourism Organization, 40% of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19. The data shows that by already by the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.
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