(MENAFN - The Peninsula) QNA
Doha: Qatar's Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced today that visitors from Morocco and Algeria will be issued visa-on-arrival in Qatar provided they hold valid residence permits or visas from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Schengen countries or the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The new system, which is set to take effect on September 15, 2017, will allow eligible visitors from Morocco and Algeria to obtain Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) by completing a simple online application on at least 48 hours prior to travelling to Qatar.
Applicants will be required to provide proof of accommodation (eg: hotel booking) and details of their return (or onward) travel, in addition to a copy of their passport with a minimum validity of six months, according to a press release issued today.
Once these steps are complete, eligible travelers from Morocco and Algeria can obtain a visa-on-arrival at Qatar, which will permit visitors to stay in the country for up to 30 days during a single visit. The visa can be extended for 30 additional days to be used during the same visit.
If the visitor leaves the country and wishes to return, they will need to apply for a new ETA 48 hours before travelling to Qatar.
Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs at MoI Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq commented, "We are continuously reviewing Qatars visa policies and seek to update them in line with economic and international developments".
He said that the implementation of the ETA system for citizens of Morocco and Algeria will facilitate cooperation and will help to attract visitors from those countries.
He noted that Algerian and Moroccan visitors who are not eligible for an ETA are also welcome to apply for a regular tourist visa through the same e-visa platform.
For his part, QTA's Chief Tourism Development Officer Hassan Al Ibrahim said that this is one of many steps that Qatar has taken to develop its tourism sector and diversify tourist source markets.
He noted that QTA introduced several measures to ease entry to Qatar, expressing the hope that this will provide an added incentive to guests from Morocco and Algeria to choose Qatar, whether as a stopover or final destination.
"We also aim to encourage businessmen and women to visit Qatar to attend business events and find out more about promising investment opportunities in our country," he added.
Al Ibrahim noted that QTA will announce additional measures to further diversify source markets over the next few days.
This development comes as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last month, Qatar waived visa requirements for nationals of 80 countries. In July, Qatar launched an e-visa platform, which allows visitors of all nationalities to apply for a tourist visa through a seamless and transparent process.
In November 2016, Qatar introduced a free transit visa which allows travelers transiting in Qatar for more than 5 hours to stop over for 96 hours (four days). This has resulted in a 40% increase in the number of stopover visitors in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.