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Maneesh Bakshi
HOTELIERS across Qatar have welcomed Qatar Tourism Authority's (QTA) recently-announced extended visa scheme allowing transit passengers travelling through Doha with four days' stopover instead of two.
According to them, the QTA move will not only boost their businesses, but also promote tourism to the country.
"The initiative will especially boost the hotel industry of Qatar and at the same time give the 30 million transit passengers who pass through Hamad International Airport (HIA) every year an opportunity to see and enjoy the riches of Qatar," Haseeb Jilani, general manager of Doha Downtown Hotel Apartments, told Qatar Tribune.
Jilani added,"Our marketing team is already working on attractive packages for transit passengers to take full advantage of the QTA's new guidelines. The packages will include airport pickup, comfortable stay in our hotel, sightseeing, entertainment and finally drop in at the airport."
According to Jilani, this is a groundbreaking decision by the Qatar government directed towards achieving long-term financial gains through promotion of international tourism in the country and is in line with the country's vision of diversifying its economy.
"Even if we are able to make one out of every three transit visitors to stay in Qatar, it will make a huge impact on overall growth of tourism in Qatar," said Jilani.
Echoing Jilani, the General Manager of Westin Doha Gianrico Esposito said,"I think the move is part of QTA's strategy to promote Qatar as an international tourist destination. It offers an opportunity to millions of passengers transiting through the Hamad International Airport every year to see Qatar and get a feel of the country and its culture."
"The QTA initiative will give transit passengers a reason to stay in Doha and may encourage some of them to visit the country time and again for longer stays to enjoy the hospitality of Qatar," Esposito added.
He also said,"We are currently working on promotional offers for the transit visitors to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. We strongly believe that this offer needs to be promoted in a big way by all the stakeholders involved."
General Manager of Shangri-La Hotel in Doha, Alex Willats, also expressed his happiness over the QTA move and said,"It is going to bring a large number of international tourists to Qatar and will definitely project Qatar as one of the leading tourist destinations in the Middle East."
"The cosmopolitan appeal of Doha alongside its world class infrastructure and high safety records are some of the city's major attractions. The new initiative will help project Doha as a cruise destination," Willats added. He also said,"Doha is a perfect blend of modernity and tradition, and tourists will love to experience that."
The new transit visa structure allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days), without the requirement to apply for an entry visa, ahead of time.
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