More people checked into Qatar’s hotels this summer compared to the same period last year, but vacancy rates are still over 40 percent on average, new figures released by the Qatar Tourism Authority show.
Hotels filled some 57 percent of their rooms from July to September of this year, up from 50 percent last year during the traditionally quiet summer tourist season, according to the the QTA’s third quarter 2013 report. Some 600 new rooms also came onto the market over the past year, an increase of 4.73 percent.
The numbers come amid a renewed push by Qatar to boost its tourism revenue. A new strategy to help the nation compete with its regional rivals, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is expected to be announced later this month.
Both UAE cities have seen increased tourist numbers over the summer season, and continue to surpass Qatar’s occupancy rates.
In September, 66 percent of hotel rooms in Qatar were full, up 8 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, Dubai recorded 75.3 percent occupancy, an 8.8 percent year-on-year increase. Meanwhile, some 68 per cent of hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi were booked in September, an increase of 8 percent.
The QTA’s report also notes that the country does not yet have enough budget and mid-range hotels – four- & five-star hotels comprise the vast majority (11,717) of Qatar’s 13,551 rooms.
Increasing visitor numbers
The country’s existing hotel stocks continue to perform well, however, with average revenue per room growing by 4.41 percent over Q3 2012, despite the opening of a number of new hotels.
The industry is certainly continuing to invest – there are now 124 hotels and serviced apartment blocks under construction in Qatar, up from 110 last year.
The report also shows that Qatar received 20 percent more visitors from the GCC during the summer this year, with the greatest increases from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Visitor numbers from the UAE and Oman remained largely the same.
Tourists coming from other parts of the world rose by 13 percent, with arrivals from Asia showed the biggest increases at 18 percent.
Meanwhile, Qatar has recently held a tourism expo in London and launched a promotional campaign in Paris to woo more European tourists to the country, though critics say its restrictive alcohol policies could deter that market.