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New visa facilitation measures brings surge of visitors

The visa facilitation measures adopted by Qatar have successfully drawn more foreign tourists into the country over the past year, agrees Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). The number of shoppers entering the country has grown by 34 percent between January and November this year, in comparison to the same period in 2016.

This was also experienced by several business establishments at popular tourist destinations like Souq Waqif, the Pearl Qatar, Museum of Islamic Art, and Katara, which form part of the ‘City Tour’ package for cruise passengers.

An employee of a Moroccan restaurant estimates that about 20 percent of their customers are now foreign visitors, mostly from Europe and Asia. This winter, there have been people visiting Qatar from Britain, China, America and other countries, who do not actually live in Qatar.

Different restaurants and coffee shops at Souq Waqif have been getting several foreign customers too, it has been learnt. A salesperson at a souvenir shop at Souq Waqif said that the demand for various types of souvenir items has surged, and they have had to hire additional staff this season.

Qatar is now ‘the most open country in the region’, as it has waived entry visas for nationals of 80 countries free of charge, besides implementing an extended 96-hour transit visa for airline passengers.

Further, the tourist e-visa for all nationalities is also likely to attract visitors from various countries across the globe, including from Asia Pacific.

Moreover, apart from traditional tourist destinations in Qatar, some of the popular Oryx farms across the country are also likely to draw several visitors. QTA is encouraging tourists to visit the Al Maha Sanctuary from an “up, close and personal experience” with the Arabian Oryx.

QTA also is of the opinion that the new and diverse tourism offerings by Qatar at major events like the forthcoming ‘Shop Qatar 2018’ would bring in more international visitors to Qatar.

Posted on 2/1/2018

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