Doha skyline. Doha skyline.

Qatar has introduced a new transit visa scheme which allow Qatar Airways passengers with a minimum layover of five hours entry into the country.

The country's free transit visas for short stopovers was implemented on November 1 last year to attract more visitors to the country. The new system allows transiting passengers of all nationalities to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights.

Hotelier Middle East previously reported that, the transit visa is available to passengers of all nationalities on arrival, upon confirmation of onward journey and completion of passport control procedures.

Story continues below

Rotana COO Guy Hutchinson has said to Gulf Times: “If we can only pull around 5% of the passengers who transit Doha to spend one or two nights in Doha, it is a huge number. This is really a very critical change for us and the other piece is marketing,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the recent Rotana GCC roadshow in Doha."

According to Hutchinson, a government plan to give ‘visa-on-arrival’ to citizens of China, Russia and India will open new opportunities for the hospitality sector.

A 3% decline in tourism numbers in the first three quarters of 2016, over the same period last year, has led to a recommendation by real estate consulting firm DTZ, that Qatar must step up efforts to develop the tourism industry.

Arabian Business reports, the new scheme is the third of its kind taken by Qatar to facilitate tourists’ entry into the country. Earlier this year, it announced the introduction of a faster and more transparent tourist visa application scheme as well as a new process to quicken the entry of tourists arriving on board cruise ships.