QATAR: The Ultimate Revival (Part 1)

ALONG WITH EFFORTS TO DIVERSIFY ITS ECONOMY, QATAR HAS BEEN LOOKING AT WAYS TO DEVELOP ITS TOURISM INDUSTRY TO APPEAL TO A BROADER RANGE OF TRAVELLERS.

BUILDING UPON QATAR TOURISM AUTHORITY’S STRATEGY OF ATTRACTING VISITORS FROM NEW SOURCE MARKETS, THE INDUSTRY IS MAKING HEADWAY, DESPITE THE DIFFICULTIES IT IS CURRENTLY FACING.

In June, geopolitical events transformed Qatar’s relationship with neighbouring countries, with travel restrictions imposed by some of its leading source markets. As an indicator of how valuable the GCC is, in the first quarter of this year (Q1), more than 45.6 percent of all arrivals hailed from the region, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).

Reinforcing the significance of the sanctions, Zeinab Hammoud, director, sales and marketing, Adagio Aparthotel Premium West Bay, pinpointed that prior to the blockade, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait were the most productive markets for vacations, while the UAE accounted for the bulk of the property’s business travellers.

Hammoud continued, “After the new restriction, we lost all our business from the nationals of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, as around 80 percent of expat corporate travellers came from those countries [...].”

While the true impact of the embargo is yet to be realised, the first half of the year (H1) proved to be extremely positive for Qatar.

Musa Al Nammari, hotel manager, Mövenpick Hotel Al Aziziyah Doha, highlighted that the property had a strong six months, with a 13 percent uplift in business as a result of seeking new sources of business, as well as implementing fresh services and attractive promotional offers.

Known as a peak travel period in the Arab world, Eid Al-Fitr typically is a time of high occupancy, bolstered by leisure travel.

Noting that overall H1 was one of the property’s most successful, Thomas Fehlbier, area general manager, Qatar, Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, enthused, “In June alone we exceeded our budget by 27 percent and had nearly 100 percent occupancy during Eid.

Even with the current state of affairs, we saw a big influx of guests from Kuwait and Oman [...].”

Meanwhile, Dyan Andrado, manager, Mannai Holidays, confirmed that, although business has been steady throughout the year with substantial growth expected, the blockade has had an affect on the country’s tourism. Nevertheless, things have already begun to look up as the leisure sector gains momentum.

He elaborated, “Thankfully, we have seen a rise in holiday travel once again during the past few weeks, however, that has still not brought us on par with what we had experienced in 2016.”

All in all, H1 was unequivocally deemed a success, albeit before the restrictions. Even so, this has brought the opportunity to focus on alternative markets.

As revealed by QTA, in the first five months of the year, the largest contributors to the seven percent surge in arrivals were the Americas and Europe, whose numbers soared nine percent and 14 percent, correspondingl

Meanwhile, the number of Kuwaiti nationals jumped seven percent year-on-year, reaffirming the potential of strategic marketing efforts.

Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer, QTA, revealed that during H1, the overall number of arrivals increased one percent, a feat considering the circumstance.

Impressively, the country achieved outstanding success in attracting cruise tourism.

Al Ibrahim disclosed that during the 2016-2017 season, 29 vessels brought 47,000 passengers to Qatar’s shore, representing year-on-year increases of 120 percent and 1,000 percent, correspondingly.