News Analysis |
With the ongoing Crisis in the Gulf, Qatar and the national flag bearing airline, Qatar Airways, is facing a massive problem with a reduced number of customers using the airline and a smaller number of tourists visiting the country. To tackle this issue, Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, The Qatar Tourism Authority, and Qatar Airways have announced that they will be authorizing visa free entry for citizens of almost 80 countries.
Pressure on Qatar
Qatar was in a very problematic situation economically with air routes closed by a majority of the Gulf nations. Qatar Airways was not allowed to proceed with their flight plans, the border with Saudi Arabia was almost closed, and so many projects going on in the country, including the construction and preparations for the FIFA world cup 2022 were severely hampered. All these economic pressures mounted on top of one another and now Qatar had to do something to allow for some breathing space. This move by the Qatari authorities does provide some space for them to relax and bring in a steady flow of finance for them to continue with the massive projects that they are involved in.
“Qatar Airways is the patriotic flag carrier for the State of Qatar and as such we are extremely honoured to bring millions of people each year to our beautiful, welcoming and historic country. This important initiative from the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Tourism Authority will provide an opportunity to welcome even more visitors, from even more countries, to experience the many exciting attractions that await them.”-Mr. Akbar Al Baker
The biggest revenue generator for the Qataris is their airline. They faced a bigger problem when their competitors took advantage of the ongoing crisis and barred any of their air movement. This caused problems for the customers and thus the reputation the airline slowly started to decay. The visa free entry will also help the Qataris in that specific sector as they look to expand themselves as an airline.
Visa free entry: The process
“Today’s announcement places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region. This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in the region, which is something that we are very proud of.”-Mr. Akbar Al Baker
According to the official Qatar Airways website, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the point of entry in the country. The only requirements for getting this waiver is to hold a valid passport of one of the listed countries and an air ticket to show the date of return.
Depending on the nationality, two types of waivers will be issued, one which allows for a 180-day stay, whereas the other which allows for a 30-day stay that can be extended once for another 30 days. Pakistan falls in the countries that have been offered the latter.
“Easing entry to Qatar is a key enabler for the growth of Qatar’s tourism industry. With this announcement, we are already turning the pages of the Next Chapter of Qatar’s journey towards 2030,”-Hassan Al Ibrahim
According to Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at QTA, this move will make Qatar “the most open country in the world”. The classification of which nationals will get which of the two waivers was established by an evaluation of the situation of those specific countries. Pakistan was initially not included in the list but according to recent reports, Pakistan has been added to the countries which will be allowed the 30-day waiver.
Read more: The Gulf crisis: A battle of megalomaniacs
The airline is looking to expand its reach and provide its services to more people. This plan of allowing visa on entry will benefit the airline the most. Qatar Airways also is looking to expand the number of locations it visits internationally as well, with the addition of Kiev, Prague, Sohar(launched) and has already launched a direct flight to Dublin. This seems to be the best plan of action by the Qataris to stabilize and re-establish themselves.