Qatar last week opened its doors to nationals of 80 countries to visit the oil-rich country, visa-free, however Sri Lanka has been omitted from the list.
The move came in the wake of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposing a boycott on Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and maintaining close links with Iran. The boycotting countries have cut off all transport links with Qatar, preventing the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council tourists, who account for nearly half of all visitors to Qatar, from going there.
Qatar, in an attempt to boost tourism, will grant ‘On-Arrival’ visas to visitors to the country. The facility granted in two segments, will grant 30-day and 90-day stays to visitors from countries listed by the Qatar Tourism Ministry.
Accordingly, travellers from Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland will get 180 days, while the second group of 47 including the United States, the United Kingdom and India will get a 30-day visa.
However, Sri Lanka has been omitted from the list. According to the Foreign Employment Bureau statistics 59,527 Sri Lankans travelled to Qatar for work, in 2016. There are daily flights to Qatar.
Officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport said Qatar Airways has four daily flights, with a daily flight by SriLankan.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry said that decisions pertaining to visas is the sovereign right of a country, and is based on reciprocity between the two countries.