(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Sachin Kumar | The Peninsula
DOHA: The number of tourists from Europe coming to Qatar is rising. The share of visitors coming to Qatar has risen from 14 percent of total visitors in 2016 to 22 percent of total visitors in 2017.
According to Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics data (MDPS), 483,834 visitors from Europe visited Qatar during 2017 out of the total 2.3 million visitors arrived in the country last year. Around 155,900 visitors came from Americas in 2017, while 752,876 from GCC countries.
Experts believe that the rise in number of tourists from Europe is the result of steps taken by authorities in Qatar to diversify the source of tourists. 'We have seen many steps taken by authorities to attract tourists from all the regions across the world. With increasing number of flights and more number of cruise ships, Qatar has now better connectivity with European countries, said a senior official of tour and travel agency.
'Qatar has also emerged as an important centre in organising high profile conferences, seminars, exhibitions and other related events, which has helped the country attract visitors and participants from across the globe, he added.
The number of tourists from European countries will get a further boost due to the aggressive expansion by Qatar Airways, which has connected many cities in Europe and other continents to Doha. Qatar Airways has 35 direct flights connecting Doha to five major cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland every week.
Qatar's recent visa policy changes, German, Austrian and Swiss citizens can now enter Qatar visa free. The visa waiver is valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and entitles its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips.
According to MDPS, visitor arrivals measures non-residents travelling to Qatar on a short-term basis for all purposes. It includes arrivals at borders under 15 different visit visa classes, including all business and leisure visa types while excluding work visas.
Discover Qatar, the destination management company arm of Qatar Airways, last year signed exclusive partnership agreements with four of the world's major tour operators in Russia, Italy, Czech Republic and Ukraine, to promote Qatar as a major tourist destination, which will further increase tourists flow in the country.
In August 2017, Ministry of Interior, Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar Airways allowed visa-free entry to nationals from over 80 countries making it the most open country in the region.