The decision to waive hotel quarantine requirements for travellers with double dose of COVID-19 vaccines has lifted the spirits stakeholders in tourism sector.
The quarantine requirement waiver coupled with resumption of issuance of tourist visas will be a shot in the arm for Qatar’s tourism sector. The Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday it would resume issuing tourist and family entry visas from Monday.
“We started getting calls regarding the ticket bookings since Thursday evening after news of new travel policy, waiving the quarantine requirements, went viral. Even on Friday, customers kept calling to know more about new travel requirements and ticket bookings,” a travel agent told The Peninsula.
“We hope to get more flight bookings from Asian countries in the coming days. There were many residents who were waiting for removal of hotel quarantine requirements. Removal of hotel quarantine will lead to huge rise in passenger traffic,” he added.
The new travel policy is coming into effect from July 12. Under the policy, vaccinated people from all countries will be exempted from quarantine. Countries are classified into three categories – green, yellow and red. Vaccinated people coming from red list will have to do repeat RT PCR on arrival.
Currently, travellers coming from six countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines are required to undergo 10 days hotel quarantine. The mandatory hotel quarantine was acting as a major deterrent in bringing tourists to the country because of financial considerations, say tour and travel agents.
“Many tourists and travellers, especially from Asian countries, were holding back their plans of coming to Qatar because of mandatory hotel quarantine. Now, Qatar will start issuing tourist visa and mandatory quarantine requirement will also be not required. These two announcements will give a big boost to tourism in Qatar,” a senior official of a Destination Management Company told The Peninsula. “Mandatory hotel quarantine was an additional financial burden for the tourists,” he added.
Airlines are also expected to benefit from the new travel policy as more people will now be willing to travel. Many residents, especially expatriates from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, were waiting for waiving of mandatory hotel quarantine. Schools are closed in July and August for summer vacation which is a good opportunity for families to go their home countries.
“My entire family was waiting for removal of hotel quarantine. My both kids are below 12 years, and everyone else is fully vaccinated. I booked my ticket for vacation today itself,” an expatriate told The Peninsula.