DOHA, – Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority, signed an agreement with VFS Global, the visa processing services provider, paving the way for an efficient and transparent tourist visa application system, that caters to travellers from around the world looking to visit Qatar.

The agreement comes as Qatar steps up efforts to attract and welcome more visitors to Qatar, in line with Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 (QNTSS).

The agreement will enable Qatar to identify and implement the ideal visa solutions for its visitors, while capitalising on VFS Global’s expertise in developing multi-platform visa services, and Qatar Airways’ extensive international footprint.

Qatar Airways and QTA will be working with VFS Global and the Ministry of Interior, over the next months to establish the new tourist visa application process, after which, full details of the new system will be announced. The steps taken are expected to increase Qatar’s openness ranking on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

“Qatar Airways has been bringing tourists to Qatar for nearly two decades and today’s announcement marks another milestone in our commitment to making Doha a world-class tourist destination,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said.

“Qatar’s tourism industry is experiencing exponential growth and the visa advancements announced today will further support our country’s vision to invite and welcome visitors from around the world to experience all that Qatar has to offer. We look forward to welcoming more passengers on-board, at Hamad International Airport and into Qatar, as a result of today’s initiative.

“I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Nationality, Borders and Expatriates Affairs, and Qatar Tourism Authority, for their partnership in making today’s announcement possible. This initiative is a great example of what we can accomplish by working together, and we have other initiatives planned to further enhance Qatar tourism,” Al Baker added.

In turn, Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, underlined on the development that Qatar’s tourism sector has witnessed in recent years. “It is a great source of pride for all of us at QTA to be making this announcement only two and half years after the launch of QNTSS. Facilitating the visa application process is an important step in our drive to increase the number of visitor arrivals to Qatar, and in raising inbound tourism spending.

“This agreement is also testament to the public-private-partnerships that are employed in the development of the sector, creating positive impacts across the tourism value chain and the broader economy,” he added.

During the first half of 2016, Qatar has welcomed 1.7 million tourists, compared to 2.9 million tourists in the whole of 2015, Al Ibrahim said, adding that, GCC tourists amounted to 850,000 in the first six months of 2016, of which 544,000 came from Saudi Arabia and 78,000 from Bahrain.

Brigadier Abdullah Salim Al Ali, director general of the General Directorate of Nationality, Borders and Expatriates Affairs, said, “Qatar’s Ministry of Interior continuously strives to make government services as smooth and efficient as possible, while ensuring that Qatar’s security is not compromised. We are pleased to take developments in our tourist visa application services to the next level by working with our valued partners Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority. We believe this agreement will optimise resources as well as security, while creating a positive impact on Qatar’s image and economy.”

VFS Global offers convenient and efficient visa application services that can be accessed online by travellers from across the world, and the partnership aims to support passengers along their journey, as well as, to facilitate Qatar’s booming tourism industry by simplifying the tourist visa process.

VFS Global CEO, Zubin Karkaria, expressed delight at partnering with Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority to make the Qatar visa application process available through online and mobile platforms.

“These new channels, which are sure to prove convenient and beneficial for visitors here, signify the next level of flexibility and security in the visa application process. This service will leverage on our experience and reliability in providing seamless visa application services, and will act as an important tool to boost tourism and make Qatar a preferred tourist destination,” he said.

Source: Nam News Network