Qatar has become the most open country in the Middle East and the 8th most open in the world in terms of visa facilitation. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently updated its visa openness rankings, confirming Qatar’s recent visa facilitation improvements including allowing nationals of 88 countries to enter Qatar visa-free and free-of-charge.
Actions Qatar has taken to improve visa facilitation include introducing an online platform for efficient and transparent visa processing and e-visas, as well as a free 96-hour transit visa doubling the time stopover passengers can remain in the country.
As a result of these measures, Qatar’s visa openness ranking has leapt to 8th in the world from 177th back in 2014. Since the introduction of these changes, year-on-year arrivals from India have grown 18%, from China 43% and from Russia a huge 366%. None of these markets now need a visa to visit Qatar.
In 2014, Qatar commissioned a visa facilitation study for the country, which UNWTO prepared based on its global openness data. “Qatar has implemented and overachieved the recommendations of the study, setting an example by spearheading safe and seamless travel, enhancing the visitor experience and better placing itself to improve mobility for its citizens,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“Openness and ease of access are crucial elements of the visitor experience. We have committed to making it a seamless experience, even as visitors plan their journey. We will continue to work with our partners on streamlining the immigration process at Qatar’s ports of entry, as well as ensuring that all visitor visas and visa procedures are electronic,” said Hassan Al Ibrahim, Qatar Tourism Authority’s chairman.
UNWTO measures the mobility of citizens based on their ability to travel seamlessly to other countries. While Qatar currently ranks 106th in the world in terms of mobility, 20 of the countries benefiting from the Qatari visa waiver are already reciprocating, enhancing the mobility of Qatar’s citizens.
Facilitating seamless travel is crucial to the continued promotion of tourism as a development vehicle and potential pillar of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Qatar’s travel facilitation improvements coincide with progress made in visa facilitation worldwide. For example, Belarus recently made visa-free travel available for 30 days to citizens of 74 countries travelling through Minsk airport. UNWTO’s global visa openness index score has increased from 31 in 2014 to 37 in 2018.
Google partners with UNWTO on Digital Skills Development
Fostering knowledge, education and growth in tourism, is at the centre of a partnership announced today between Google and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Google will support UNWTO members in addressing the new digital trends and transformation challenges faced by tourism and needed by the sector, to fully harness its development potential and contribution to sustainability.
Digital skills are crucial for competitiveness in tourism, a sector characterized by technological change and the generation of new business models.
“This agreement with Google coincides with UNWTO’s special focus on education, skills development and jobs, the connecting thread of all our actions this year”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Google is an affiliate member of UNWTO and this partnership proves the importance of public-private collaboration to advance tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development”, he added.
Lutz Behrendt, Travel Industry Leader, from Google said: “More than half of tourism revenue in the EU is now researched or booked online. By equipping tourism ministries with the skills, tools and programmes they need to market and protect themselves online, we hope it will increase opportunities for jobs and revenue across the industry. Following a similar tourism programme we ran in Greece, 68% of participating businesses confirmed they saw concrete business results following our training, such as more visitors to their website or physical business.”
A High-Level Dialogue on Digital Skills in Tourism set the backdrop for announcing the agreement. Organized by UNWTO with the support of Google during ITB Berlin, the world`s leading travel trade fair, the event underscored that digital skills development remain a major priority for destinations around Europe.
Overtourism? New UNWTO Report Offers Case Studies to Tackle Challenges
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released today the report ‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth Beyond Perceptions: Case Studies’, choosing ITB Berlin as the fitting backdrop to address a pressing topic before the global tourism sector. The report provides examples of specific measures being implemented in cities across the Americas, Asia and the Pacific and Europe.
A total of 18 case studies assembled in the report are the follow-up to the general approach laid out in the previous publication ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions’. Launched in September 2018, it examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations to the benefit of visitors and residents alike, offering a wide range of strategies and measures for a better understanding and management of challenges and opportunities.
“Urban tourism is multifaceted and requires a city-wide strategy with cooperation between all stakeholders and the inclusion of tourism in the urban agenda”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Sustainable and inclusive cities must mean creating cities for all: citizens, investors and visitors”, he addedd.
As acomplement to the conceptual approach, the report presented today looks into concrete case studies from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Berlin, Besalú, Cambridge, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Ghent, Hangzhou, London, Lucerne, Macao (China), New York, Lisbon, Seoul, Porto, Prague and Venice,.
The examples show that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ measure to tackle overtourism, and that any successful destination management strategy needs to be context specific. Although this might not come as a surprise, there is a connecting thread between the fundamental challenges: congestion in specific locations and sites at specific moments, mobility, pressure on infrastructure and resources, decrease in ‘place’ authenticity and impact on social fabrics and residents daily lives.
Consequently, the most common measures currently being implemented by destinations relate to the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond, showing the pressing need to manage tourism congestion in certain areas and attractions. Measures with the aim of improving the city infrastructure and facilities are also frequently mentioned, reflecting the fact that many challenges are linked not only to the growing number of visitors but also to the pressure placed by residents, commuters and tourists on the city’s resources and services.
The Overtourism reports were produced in collaboration with the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH), Breda University of Applied Sciences, and the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.
Tourism: Women Taking the Lead
To mark International Women’s Day 2019 UNWTO, in collaboration with UN Women, the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ), World Bank Group and Amadeus, has today released preliminary findings of the Global Report on Women in Tourism, Second Edition.
ITB Berlin, the world’s leading trade fair, provided the backdrop to announcing The Global Report. The initial results indicate that across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses:
The majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female
Tourism offers greater opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship than the wider economy
Tourism policies are increasingly addressing gender-equality
Research has also shown more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector. In Morocco women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time. An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ. Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO, Jean Byamugisha.
These are but a few examples which can be found around the world. Together, they add up to a growing trend.
Technology has also been an important factor for empowerment, providing women with more training opportunities and stimulating entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market.
In the public sphere, policy-makers are waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.
Speaking on these findings UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said that “tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world”.
He added: “UNWTO is firmly committed to working towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – the empowerment of women and girls – and ensuring that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender-equality efforts.”
UNWTO is compiling the second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism in collaboration with UN Women, GIZ, World Bank Group and Amadeus. These preliminary findings have been released to mark International Women’s Day 2019. The full report will be published in Autumn 2019.
Gender equality, justice in law and practice: Essential for sustainable development
Fundamentally linked to human development, gender justice requires ending inequality and redressing existing disparities between women and men, according to...
A pearl on the Black Sea joins Radisson Collection
Radisson Hotel Group announced that one of its flagship hotels – the Radisson Blu Paradise Resort and Spa, Sochi in...
Hands-on e-waste management training
Over 30 representatives of 13 Latin American countries and international experts have gathered to learn and share experiences on e-waste...
The fallacy of soccer’s magical bridge-building qualities
Imagining himself as a peacemaker in a conflict-ridden part of the world, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sees a 2022 World...
Trump’s Golan Heights Declaration: The Message to Azerbaijan
On March 21, 2019, United States President Trump tweeted, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to...
Davos: The Other Side of the Mirror
It has been a couple of months since I was hanging out in Davos learning about this year’s World Economic...
Civilizationism vs the Nation State
Many have framed the battle lines in the geopolitics of the emerging new world order as the 21st century’s Great...
Terrorism2 days ago
Gun Control: Lessons from the East
East Asia2 days ago
China’s great geostrategy for trade and defense
Hotels & Resorts2 days ago
The Luxury Collection Debuts in Armenia With the Opening of The Alexander
Human Rights2 days ago
UNESCO research on AI’s implications on human rights
Energy1 day ago
“Gas wars” in Europe
Energy3 days ago
Thinking about energy and water together can help ensure that “no one is left behind”
Green Planet3 days ago
UN Environment, Google, EC partnership effective to depoliticize water crisis in South Asia
International Law9 hours ago
Trump’s Golan Heights Declaration: The Message to Azerbaijan