The Gulf carriers have been long known to offer long distance travel between Europe and Asia or Australia. When flying with Emirates, Qatar Airways, or Etihad, the services often include a stop in their main hubs. Should you fly Emirates, you most likely will stop by Dubai. Doha would be your connecting point if you fly Qatar Airways. Both carriers have made attempts to attract travellers to their hubs offering hotel and visa assistance for passengers with long connections at Dubai or Doha. Qatar Airways will be extending their transit program in Doha again in 2018.
Qatar Airways first introduced their +Qatar program in May of 2017. Travellers who book the stay get a 96 hour Qatar visa for free and a free night stay. An extra night would cost around USD $50. The program was scheduled to end in September 2017. However, the offer is being extended for passengers who book through December 31st and travel by April 30, 2018. Bookings to avail the benefits of the program is done on the airline's website.
This is targeted at travellers who have a transit time between Qatar Airway flights in Doha over 12 hours. An example of this would be an itinerary where you fly Qatar Airways between London and Sydney, Tokyo to Cape Town, or Hong Kong to Rome. All your flights on the trip need to be on a Qatar Airways flight, as it will not apply if you connect in Doha to a flight run by another airline.
Besides the new extended date for bookings, travellers will still get to select a hotel to book their stay based on their booking class, where Economy class passengers will get to choose from some premium hotels in the city. Passengers on Business and First class will get to select from luxury hotels. Once at the hotel, you will have to provide your boarding passes and a copy of your confirmation from the airline.
The airline has extended the end date of the program again for a second time, with a new last day to book your travels and excursion by February 28, 2018. After its second extension, it could be a sign it could eventually become a regular offer for Qatar Airways passengers.
The extension of the +Qatar program has been to a benefit of Qatar's growing tourism industry. Despite sanctions from its neighboring Gulf states, Qatar's tourism officials stated the number of stopover passengers rose by 34% between January and November last year versus in 2016. It hopes to also help Qatar maintain its competitive stance versus the offer as Dubai also competes to attract transit passengers from Emirates flights through its Dubai Connect program.