By Crystal Chesters
Restrictions need to be updated in order to accommodate the growing number of visitors from markets like China, India and South America
Doha hoteliers have called for visa restrictions to be updated in order to accommodate the growing number of visitors from emerging markets.
The issue was raised at the Hotelier Middle East Qatar Hospitality Summit 2015 during a discussion on the topic of how the current visa system can be improved to make Qatar more attractive to tourists from new markets.
Zeinab Hammoud, director of sales & marketing, Governor West Bay Suites & Residences commented: “From China there are a lot of people that want to come and Brazil is really growing, but visas are not easy to get.”
Dr. Alexander G. Grit – research lecturer – School of Tourism, Stenden University of Applied Science, also highlighted South America as an emerging inbound market for Qatar, along with Germany and Spain.
Christoph K. Franzen, general manager Grand Hyatt Doha said that he would “go after the Chinese market” if it weren’t for the challenges, while he hinted that India was also a potential target.
Safak Guvenc, area manager Qatar / general manager W Doha & Residences also identified China and India as key target markets.
“Take India, China - think of the populations of these countries. They are moving from poverty into middle class, millions of people, where are they going to travel? Their closest destination of course!” he said.
One way of softening barriers to entry, according to Guvenc, would be “separating” visas: “For visa restrictions I think we have to separate them into working, residence and tourist,” he claimed.
“Imagine the negative effect it would have for people, not getting a visa,” Franzen warned, while Hammoud added “they’ll have this idea they can’t come back”.