Spend a long layover in Doha and Qatar Airways will put you up in a five-star hotel.
At a time when terrorism has heightened concerns about travel to the Middle East, Qatar Airways is begging travelers to give its capital city, Doha, a closer look.
Case in point: In conjunction with the Qatar Tourism Authority, the airline unveiled a new program that offers one free night at a high-end Doha hotel for travelers who book eastbound air travel with an overnight stop.
According to a press release, the program includes the option of adding a second night for $50.
Participating hotels include The Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu, and Oryx Rotana. For those of you scoring at home, this essentially means you can build a two-night stay into travel plans through Qatar and experience Doha from a five-star hotel for less than a decent bottle of Napa Valley cabernet.
The program, dubbed +Qatar, was designed to get transit passengers to stay a while or, as the release notes, “turn a layover into a stay-over.” Qatar officials hope to convert into stopover stays a large portion of the 30 million annual visitors who pass through Hamad International Airport (HIA).
The new program is the latest step in a push to make Doha more appealing to outsiders.
In November 2016, Qatar rolled out a new visa program that provides free transit visas to passengers of all nationalities who have layovers of at least five hours and no more than 96 hours.
Together, this program and +Qatar have been successful; Qatar officials say they’ve seen a surge in stopover passengers, with a 53 percent increase recorded in March 2017 compared to the same month last year.
One warning: Qatar is one of the countries on the list for the recent U.S. airline industry electronics ban, meaning travelers currently must surrender their laptops and devices for the flight west. If you choose to take advantage of this offer, don’t plan on having the trusty laptop with you for the return.