Qatar Tourism buoyed by GCC and Asia visitors

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The latest figures released by Qatar Tourism Authority have shown an increase in visitors to the country.

The-Passenger-Terminal-of-the-hamad international airport
The passenger terminal of the new Hamad International Airport, Qatar

Hotel occupancy rate rose from an average of 58 percent to 67 percent, despite a 4.5 percent increase in the number of rooms available. Total revenue at four and five-star hotels increased by QAR155.9 million with a staggering 20 percent increase in revenue at five-star hotels alone.

The total number of hotels under construction in the country increased to 121 properties in Q2 2013 from 110 at the end of 2012; with a total 20,955 rooms to expected to be delivered.

Mr. Issa Mohammed Al-Mohannadi; “We are seeing strong growth in all aspects of Qatar’s tourism sector. Qatar Tourism Authority is proud of these developments and the strides being made towards a record year of tourism in Qatar. As tourism becomes increasingly important to diversifying the national economy we look positively on these developments.” —  Mr. Issa Mohammed Al-Mohannadi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority

Visitors increased from most corners of the globe, with particularly good performance coming from within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which were up by 15 percent, with Saudi Arabia the largest single source of visitors with 144,491 travelers. Overall visitors from other continents rose by 6.6 percent, with an impressive growth rate of 12 percent for Asian tourists.

The leisure tourism sector saw a 10 percent increase from international markets, aided by a diverse range of events and activities in Qatar during the second quarter of 2013. This includes the first-ever Middle East performance of Disney on Ice, as well as the sold-out performances of the Broadway hit show STOMP at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

Mr. Issa Mohammed Al-Mohannadi; “Looking to the third and fourth quarters of the year, the offerings and programs underway should continue to drive interest and visits to Qatar, including the Eid Festival coming next month, and the return of Cirque du Soleil in September to Aspire Dome. Our events, promotional campaigns and unique and developing offer is having the desired effect of increasing interest within the region and internationally in Qatar as a destination.”

Furthermore, the Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre under construction and the Hamad International Airport which is to open by year-end 2013 is expected to further boost the Qatar tourism sector.

Qatar Travel and Tourism Market

Qatar is positioning itself as a transit hub and competing with the two other aviation hubs in the Middle East, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Recent years have seen Qatar gain momentum as a transit hub, mainly due to Qatar Airways’ expanding route network, including long-haul destinations in the Far East, as well as in Australasia and the Americas, with passengers connecting via Doha. This has created a large stopover market for the Peninsula and has positioned Qatar well on the global tourism map. In response, travel retailers have introduced stopover packages in a bid to encourage tourists to see the country and experience some of its activities and attractions, in the hope that they will return or at least generate positive word-of-mouth publicity.

Qatar: Business Hub

Qatar is increasingly positioned as a business hub in the Middle East, competing again, with cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. An increasing number of trade events and exhibitions are taking place in Doha, including the well-known UN Climate Change Conference 2012.

Sports events have also been a major magnet for business tourism, and preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 are also boosting business. Doha is also a diplomatic hub in the region and conferences aiming to stabilise countries affected by the Arab Spring have attracted many political delegations.

As Qatar prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, hotels are rushing to supply the country with enough rooms to cater for the large number of visitors expected during the event.

Qatar is one of the most attractive among GCC countries in terms of overall departures, with average spending by tourists the highest in the GCC region. Wealthy Qatari citizens and residents of Qatar are open to new destinations and travel retailers have taken advantage of this by introducing travel packages to locations such as Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Qatar’s leisure arrivals are weaker compared to markets such as the UAE, mainly because Qatar does not offer the same variety of activities and leisure attractions as the UAE and hence remains far less attractive. Efforts to lure visitors from the GCC, Europe, and the West, are underway as the country prepares to attract millions of people during the World Cup event.

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