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    Officials warn Qatar hotels over ‘irresponsible 1,200%’ price hikes

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    Photo for illustrative purposes only.
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has threatened to take legal action against several local hotels that apparently increased their room rates by 400 to 1,200 percent beyond the maximum allowable rate earlier this month.

    The spike in prices appeared to coincide with an influx of visitors from Saudi Arabia, during a school holiday from March 19 to 28. The neighboring country is one of Qatar’s largest source of tourists.

    In a statement published in Arabic on Twitter over the weekend, QTA said:

    “The exaggerated increase in the prices” created “a negative image about the tourism industry in the state and the national economy, especially since it coincides with the season for receiving tourists and visitors from the Gulf countries.

    These irresponsible actions on behalf of some hotels and hotel apartments could waste the efforts exerted by the partners and employees of the tourism sector and QTA to promote Qatar as a vacation hub.”

    Several tourists from Saudi Arabia have been quoted in Al Raya complaining about the hike in hotel prices. They said some hotels were charging more than QR6,000 (US$1,648) a night, which they called “an unprecedented rate in the Gulf countries,” according to the local newspaper.

    The QTA said it monitors room prices online and sent a warning to several hotels, instructing them to reduce their rates. It also has set up a team to investigate “the continuance of the violation by any hotel.”

    The statement added that legal action would be taken against hotels that continue to increase their prices without permission.

    Regulation

    Torch Doha
    Torch Doha

    Hotels in Qatar must have maximum room rates approved by QTA annually, according to Amin Al Darawsheh, sales director at the Torch Doha Hotel.

    Speaking to Doha News, he said QTA takes several factors into consideration when setting prices, including how many stars a hotel carries and the extent of the services offered.

    He added that hotel prices usually increase when demand is high, and when there are lots of last-minute bookings, which operators usually see in the case of visitors from Gulf countries.

    According to Darawsheh, rates tend to fluctuate throughout the year due to changing seasonal demand. The Torch – which is a five-star property – charged a maximum of QR1,200 ($330) a night in March and was fully booked this month.

    But Al Darawsheh said he saw room rates at some competing hotels climb to QR9,000 ($2,471) per night, which he called “unrealistic” and “greedy.”

    “Increasing prices that much is bad for (any hotel’s) reputation and damages efforts to attract (tourists). These hotels should be punished,” he added.

    Handball boost

    This isn’t the first time that hotels in Qatar have appeared to increase room rates in response to rising demand.

    National handball team players
    National handball team players

    The average daily room rate in January was QR994 ($273), according to a recent report from business consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY).

    That’s up nearly 12 percent from QR889 ($244) a year earlier, a jump that EY attributes to the Men’s Handball World Championship hosted by Qatar that month.

    Outside of the tournament, however, hotel room rates have held steady in Qatar as new lower-priced, mid-range options for travelers put pressure on luxury properties to keep their fees in check, EY said.

    “The increase in internationally operated three and four-star hotels meant that it became more difficult for five-star hotels to justify their premium room rates,” Yousef Wahbah, EY’s head of real estate transactions for the MENA region, said in a statement.

    This diversification of the market represents a significant shift in Qatar’s hotel industry, which has historically been dominated by luxury properties catering to business travelers and well-heeled tourists.

    But despite the opening of new lower-cost hotels in Qatar, 2014 was still a healthy year for the sector, EY said. Doha’s hotel room occupancy rate of 70 percent was one of the highest in the region, which helped boost revenue per available room by 13.4 percent, EY said.

    The company said the short-term outlook for the country’s hospitality sector is rosy as the QTA increases its marketing efforts and works with local businesses to diversify the country’s attractions.

    airportchristmasteddy
    For illustrative purposes only.

    The number of visitors to Qatar is already growing rapidly. Last year, 2.83 million tourists visited Qatar, up 8.2 percent over 2013, according to QTA figures.

    “Qatar’s hospitality industry is expected to thrive in 2015 and beyond,” Wahbah stated.

    Others, however, don’t share his optimism in the long run.

    Last fall, business advisory firm Deloitte said although the number of visitors to Qatar is increasing rapidly, the number of hotels is growing even faster as hospitality businesses construct new accommodations to meet demand for 2022 World Cup.

    Deloitte questioned whether there would be sufficient demand for these hotel rooms in the run-up to the tournament, as well as in the years directly afterwards.

    Thoughts?

    50 COMMENTS

      • Just shows how much “Authority” the QTA has. Please don’t violate our rules, or we will… ummm…. threaten to maybe enforce them in the future.

        Do these guys also work part time a traffic police?

        • My work involves looking at tourism figures that the QTA provides, believe me, they just seem to make the figures up for number of tourists.

        • This is the same crew that hilariously rates the Grosvenor, West Bay as 5 star. How have they come up with these hotel star ratings or does it depend if the owner takes QTA out for a steak dinner?

    1. Last week was a joke, a pretty rubbish 2 star near Grand Hamad was going for more than a night in Burj Al Arab Dubai!

    2. Increase in demand is the only factor that was responsible for the ridiculous hotel rates last week, and this trend is very common with the tourism and travel industry. See how the airline fares skyrocket during summer holidays.
      Only with a very strict monitoring on this front by the competent authority, can the country “attract” tourists here. I am sure none of those unfortunate visitors who ended up paying these “out of the world” rates would either consider returning to this place again, or refer this country to any of their peers.
      I am hoping for a swift proactive action from the authorities, at least after realizing the ills of tourism industry here.

      • The reason why some make huge n illegal profits is they are not afraid of the authorities. Only prompt and impartial enforcement of existing laws can deter such profit making adventures.

        • You should check out some of the fake reviews for this place. They are so over the top, its easy to spot they were placed by the management.

          • Which leads us to the conclusion that being the “Richest Country in the World” also requires being the “Greediest Country in the World”.

            • How so?

              On a side note, It is funny how expats talk about greed and money when the sole reasons they are here is to get money. Funnier that some of them are willing to live a “miserable” life temporally to get more money.

              It is “interesting” what people do for money, Daniel, I guess a German old-bag like you would know *wink*. I think you should stick to what you do best, teach at Trio-Learn Center.

    3. Money talks that’s for sure. But even then businesses should keep in mind the “long term” vision of diversifying resources. Good now maybe, what about later?

    4. Yeah, just like the house rents the rates keep on going higher and higher for no rhyme or reason and all this time we thought that nobody was bothered about this things. It is astonishing how greedy some people and businesses can get.

      • Well this is actually two different cases. In this one the hotels are abusing a short term high demand to inflate their profits, the housing situation is different. There are vacant properties but landlords, (or the middle men) are trying to jack the market up.

    5. Accommodation is a plural noun. There is no such word as “accommodations” nor is there such a word as “informations”. Who proof reads this stuff?

      • I think this is a word where the stricter British rule will yield to American style. Personally, sometimes I prefer British, as in your putting the period after the end quote; but more often I think the American style reflects better the dynamic nature of English language. I’m American so biased but once upon a time I worked in a British English paper that still had tyres on its vehicles. So I had to adapt; perchance you can too. Cheers, mate. http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/accommodation

            • It is a misunderstanding of language to view British English as purer than American. That many Americans share this naive idea doesn’t make it correct. At the time that dictionaries attempting to solidify grammar and spelling were being developed, both languages were and are living and changing. The closest thing to English from that period is believed to be a small island off the coast of Virginia. Suffice it to say if either an American or a British subject hears their speech today it is equally unrecognizable to both. Languages that thrive and are alive are in a constant state of change. We should celebrate that as a strength from which springs creativity and understanding. The attempt by some to set a fixed point in the past and bar deviation is a fool’s errand.

              Take it easy, ladies & gents! And stay out of grammar gaol.

      • Accommodation isn’t a plural noun – it’s a mass noun. The word accommodations is frequently used in American English. It’s not a word I would use, but it’s not incorrect in the context in which it has been used above.

        • Sorry I’m talking about the original English language, and they are called plural nouns, and I have never heard an American use accommodation or information with an s on the end.

    6. It is worth pointing out that every hotel in the world hikes their rates according to the season or any particular special event taking place in the vicinity, and yes some of the hikes can be dramatic.

    7. The bad bad expat hotel managers must be responsibe, the good good sheikh hotel owners would have never approved that if they knew

      • What makes you assume the managers are responsible? For a start an owner logically has more interest in profit than a manager. Secondly, you have no evidence whatsoever to prove that the hotel managers are behind this. The article above has undergone a more rigorous process in order to produce facts, and it did not claim one specific stakeholder is responsible for the increase in fare. Thirdly, you erroneously build a bridge between hotel manager, expatriates, and “bad” person, needless to say, it is unreasonable beyond any logical doubts.

        This is NOT to say or assume that the hotel owners are responsible, it is merely to disprove your logic of favoring one stakeholder over the other without any competent argument.

        • he was being sarcastic, he is blaming the hotel owner…but in my experience it is not the owners fault…
          many hotel owners in Qatar get companies to operate them…so the manager runs the hotel, with very little input from the owner.

          • This is true of many other businesses. Sponsors and owners may not always be aware of what’s going on and the expat managers run the show and make a profit

        • The hotels are not run by the owner, they are managed by the brand, or even a franchisee with a licence from the brand, but both options on behalf of the owner. The manager will have a two part fee from the owner – a flat fee and a profit related fee, and I imagine the basic fee is pretty low in Qatar so it’s in the managing brands interest to force the profit. Also, as in every major city, all hotels are constantly in contact with each other to agree sustainable rates. It’s called “ringing” of course and it happens every day in the hotel business.

    8. Sure…and we know that the QA flight ticket prices will DEFINITELY remain unchanged during the Easter break…………….

    9. Grocery shop approach to “hotel management”. Exploit, abuse and rob blind if you can. Recipe of success, after all didn’t Lulu start as a local grocery shop?

    10. I inquired to Gulf Horizon two weeks ago, standard room cost 600 QR. Now I know the reason why their rate is quite high this month!

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