By Fazeena Saleem
DOHA: Singapore is planning to attract more Qatari tourists and enhance cultural ties as both countries will celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations next year.
Singapore has witnessed a considerable rise in the number of visitors from Qatar, and is planning to attract more, according to a diplomat.
“There is an increase in the number of people travelling from Qatar to Singapore. In 2011, about 7,000 Qataris visited Singapore, it’s a significant number,” the Minister-Counsellor at the mission, Syed Noureddin (pictured), told The Peninsula yesterday.
Singapore is a popular holiday destination among expats here. “Singapore is a country, with all its entertaining and enchanting experiences in a safe, luxury environment designed to cater for every tourist,” said Noureddin.
“There are many other nationals in Qatar who travel to Singapore, but unfortunately we don’t check them,” he added.
Qataris and several other nationals are given visa to enter Singapore upon arrival, free of charge.
“Generally Singapore is very open. Visitors require a valid passport and a return ticket,” he said.
For visitors who require a visa, the embassy has outsourced five travel agencies to process applications.
“People who wish to visit Singapore can go to these travel agencies; it’s more convenient than coming to the embassy,” said Noureddin.
“By and large it’s a very straightforward application form and many people get visa easily. However, we do occasionally get people coming here (the embassy).”
In 2010, Singapore and Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation, setting out their desire to strengthen cooperation in the field.
The MoU was in addition to 20 agreements in various fields, including cultural, trade, environment and information technology.
Qatar and Singapore will celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations in 2014 and look forward to more cultural collaboration.
“We are trying to increase the number of tourists from Qatar and enhance cultural corporation,” Noureddin added.
The MoU on culture aims to promote co-operation and exchange by encouraging art exhibitions, literary and cultural events, as well as exchange of artistic, folkloric and musical groups and writers.
The sixth Qatar-Singapore high-level joint committee meeting scheduled for November is expected to enhance partnerships, he added.