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Monday, July 26, 2021

Large influx of Saudi visitors to Qatar drives recent surge in tourism

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

More than one out of every four visitors to Qatar now hail from Saudi Arabia, according to new government figures that have shown a spike in tourism during the first quarter of this year.

The neighboring country’s importance to Qatar’s tourism sector appears to be growing, despite efforts by authorities here to attract a more diverse group of visitors.

In the first three months of this year, the number of arrivals from Saudi Arabia climbed to 241,008 people, a 28 percent jump over the first quarter of 2014, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said.

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

The visits were highest last month, when many families from Saudi Arabia came here while schools were closed for holiday.

“March witnessed the largest monthly influx of arrivals in Qatar’s history,” Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s chief tourism development officer, said in a statement.

The number of Saudi tourists was more than double the number of visitors from India, Qatar’s second-largest source of guests. Arrivals from the South Asian country inched up to 107,262 in the first quarter, a 5 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.

Overall, the number of visitors to Qatar between January and March this year climbed to 841,025 people, up 11 percent over the first quarter of 2014.

Visitors also came from the UK (39,270 arrivals, up 4 percent), Bahrain (33,648, up 1 percent) and Oman (30,685, up 5 percent), among other countries.

Industry courts KSA

Saudi Arabia – and, to a lesser extent, other GCC countries – have long been a dominant source of tourists to Qatar, due to their proximity, common language and culture.

Previously, local tourism officials have said they want the number of visitors from the region to keep increasing, but would like to see the number of tourists from outside of the Gulf grow even faster.

QTA ad to court French visitors.
QTA ad to court French visitors.

Generally speaking, tourists from afar tend to spend more on hotels, dining out and shopping when they travel. By attracting more high-spending visitors, Qatar officials see tourism as a way for Qatar to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.

To that end, QTA has set a goal of attracting 64 percent of its tourists from outside the GCC. During the first quarter of 2014, it came close to meeting that target, as 57 percent of visitors came from non-Gulf countries.

Still, there are signs that the industry is looking to cater to and capitalize on Qatar’s largest source of tourists.

For example, Hilton Hotels & Resorts last year announced plans to open a 362-room waterfront resort in southwest Qatar, 15 minutes from the Saudi border, by 2019.

Salwa beach resort
Salwa beach resort

And last month, QTA officials stepped in to prevent hotels from hiking their prices during the Saudi school holiday.

The local tourism body threatened legal action against some hotels that had apparently increased their prices by 400 to 1,200 percent of the maximum allowable rate, denouncing the higher rates as “irresponsible.”

Despite the incident, the cost of a hotel room increased only modestly in March. The average rate per room stood at QR566 last month, up from QR546 in February. The increase was relatively consistent across all categories of accommodations, from five-star facilities to budget hotels.

Overall, average room rates actually dipped 1 percent during the first quarter. But higher occupancy rates meant that hoteliers brought in 7 percent more revenue per available room, a key industry metric.

Thoughts?

16 COMMENTS

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Gracie
Gracie
6 years ago

Perhaps I have too high an opinion on what governs a holiday destination, but for me Qatar is not a tourist area. I don’t understand why anyone would pay crazy prices to stay in a hotel that, although fancy, offers nothing in terms of entertainment.
Apart from going on leisurely walks on the Corniche and eating yourself into obesity, there really isn’t much to do.
As it says in the article, Qatar is targeting high spenders, and I imagine most tourists are looking for affordable holidays with plenty things to see, that will not leave a hole in their pockets when they go back home.

brorick
brorick
6 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

I personally would never come to Qatar on holiday but I guess Qatar is a happy center between Saudi’s tough stance and the Emirates go easy lifestyle. Qatar is trying to accommodate the muslims by maintaining its culture while at the same time allowing hotels to serve alcohol. thats maybe where they target people?
As well as this Qatar does hold a few events through out the year..

Truth101
Truth101
6 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

Or perhaps this tells us how sad a place Saudi is if that lot see this place as a holiday destination! It’s all relative I would say.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

I would prefer uae or oman

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Oh dear that is the last thing we need. I remember when they had the trouble in Bahrain and the Saudis couldn’t get to the bar and the nice ladies, so they started turning up in Doha’s bars instead causing trouble. No worse drunk than a saudi drunk. I guess that is what happens when you live in a country that is slightly more boring than poking your eye out with a stick.

zeit
zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

yes its only the saudi drunks that create problem. All the other drunk people in Qatar are the most well behaved people I have ever seen. Their respect of the laws and their good natured make me want to give them an award. All that football hooliganism and crimes associated with drunk men are I guess an illusion according to respected academic and scholar MIMH.

Argument lost. 1-0 to MIMH
Argument lost. 1-0 to MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  zeit

You had me interested until the football bit, completely irrelevant to the point you were trying to make, whether that point be right or wrong.

zeit
zeit
6 years ago

If you think football hooliganism specially in Europe has nothing to do with alcohol, God help you.

ex_pat
ex_pat
6 years ago
Reply to  zeit

Egypt, Turkey. Not like they’ve ever had problems with hooliganism…cheap shot to generalise about European football fans being hooligans. Have you been to a game in Europe recently?

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  ex_pat

Do you not remember when intoxicated Iranian fans threw a firecracker on the pitch during an ACL match? What about when drunken Algerian fans killed a Cameroonian footballer? Evidently, alcohol-fueled hooliganism is the only type of hooliganism.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

The 57% number is skewed that includes lay over and business/conference tourists.. I can’t imagine a family in HK or Prague packing their bags to spend a week in Doha

On another note I’ll start a tour company taking Doha expats on tours to Saudi arabia.. I’ll make a stop at a gas station outside of Riyadh let everyone out to stretch their legs and then gun it back to Doha .. Lol fun

Jimbob
Jimbob
6 years ago

I don’t see Qatar as a holiday destination when you have the UAE and Oman to visit. Qatar should look into other means of diversifying its economy apart from tourism.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

Just another article that blurs the distinction between tourists and visitors to talk-up the current and future non-existent tourist industry. I can’t wait for WC2022 and the advertisements to lure the fans in that will no doubt suggest “100 things to do in Qatar”

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

Here’s a thought: the world’s tallest artificially made mountain. That would put Qatar on the map properly especially if at the top they also build a huge mosque. Eat that, UAE!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

There is no tourism industry apart from the Saudis. All others are transiting through or visiting expat relatives. The Saudis are come for a bit of ‘ freedom’ and good luck to them, but the rest are visiting friends and relative expats…..

Enceladus
Enceladus
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

The funny thing here is… All the Qataries I know or talk to ( more than just few) they claim going to Dubai as often as they can to have fun (different levels of fun I presume but fun after all) because “Dubai is so cool”. Then when the logical question comes … “so if Dubai is so cool why not to turn Doha on that direction?” “Ahhh… No no no no…we don’t want to do that…” And then I just tell myself I must be very stupid to understand it… So I let it go…

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