Qatar Airways is so convinced travellers will love Doha, the airline is offering free hotel stays for transit passengers who opt to spend the night.
In partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority, OR QTA, Qatar Airways has rolled out the Plus Qatar campaign, which gives passengers the opportunity to experience Doha first-hand. Throughout the summer, the airline will provide one free night at a local four- or five-star hotel for customers en route to destinations beyond the capital. If travellers wish to stay a second night in Doha, that's OK too. The second night can be arranged for a mere $US50 booking fee.
"Qatar Airways is more than just a national flag-carrier for Qatar; we are proudly patriotic and want to share Qatar's many exciting attractions with our passengers from around the world," said His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways Group. "This exclusive initiative provides the opportunity to add an extra element to our passengers' existing travel plans with a complimentary hotel stay in some of Doha's finest hotels. We want to ensure that our passengers have a memorable experience every time they travel with Qatar Airways, and now, we're going even further to make sure that we exceed their expectations."
The free stopover program comes on the heels of a new Transit Visa program introduced last November, which provides free transit visas to passengers of all nationalities who have layovers of at least five hours and no more than 96 hours between flights at Hamad International Airport.
"It was a great source of pride for all of us in Qatar when we launched the transit visa last November," said Hassan Al-Ibrahim, the chief tourism development officer for the Qatar Tourism Authority.
"We have already seen a surge in stopover passengers, with a 53 percent increase recorded in March 2017, compared to the same month last year. With the launch of Plus Qatar today, we aim to convert a larger portion of the 30 million passengers passing through Hamad International Airport into stopover visitors. We are delighted to make Qatar more accessible to people from around the world and invite them to discover our country, our cultural heritage and our natural treasures."
The stopover program is available to all Qatar Airways passengers, including those seated in economy class. Among the participating hotels are such brands as Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana. While in Doha, travellers can enjoy city tours, desert safari adventures or a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow. To be eligible, travellers must book their flight at www.qatarairways.com, select "multi-city" and choose their hotel once they receive their flight confirmation.
See also: The three-minute guide to Qatar
While the recently implemented electronics ban does affect US bound travellers from Hamad International Airport, or HIA, the airport makes sense as a stopover airport for North Americans headed to India or Southeast Asia. In 2017, the airport was ranked the sixth-best in the world and the top Best Airport in the Middle East for the third consecutive year by Skytrax. It was also recognised as the airport with the "Best Staff Service" in the Middle East for the second year in a row.
Qatar Airways also took home a basketful of recognition from Skytrax fliers, including World's Best Business Class, Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff Service in the Middle East.
Qatar Airways, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, also marks its 10th anniversary flying to the United States. The airline currently flies to 10 US destinations and plans to add Las Vegas later this year and San Francisco in 2018. Qatar's premium class customers offer a number of sweet extras including loaner laptops and some high-end business class suites.
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