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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Qatar sees more tourists in 2013, but still lags behind GCC peers

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A sharp rise in visitors from Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped push the number of tourists to Qatar up 8.3 percent last year to 1.3 million, fresh government figures show.

But despite seeing an additional 100,000 guests in 2013, media reports and official statistics from around the Gulf show that Qatar still lags behind most of its GCC neighbors in attracting tourists.

The 2013 Qatar Tourism Statistics Report was released yesterday and comes amid a major government push to boost tourism, as a way of diversifying the economy and enhancing the country’s international image.

In February, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) set a goal of attracting between 6.7 million and 7.4 million visitors by 2030 and pledged to spend billions of dollars developing the sector in large part by subsidizing new attractions and training more hospitality workers.

In a statement, Hassan Al-Ibrahim, QTA’s director of strategy development said:

“2013 was a turning point in the history of the tourism industry in Qatar. Stakeholders are engaged and the private sector is leading the change in the sector.”

GCC standings

However, despite last year’s increase, recent figures from around the Gulf show Qatar still trails most of its neighbors in attracting tourists. This country’s 1.3 million tourists in 2013 is lower than most other destinations in the region:

Published figures for Kuwait, which had the dubious distinction of being named one of 10 unfriendliest nations for tourists by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year, were not immediately available. However, its goal of attracting 1 million tourists by 2015 indicates it likely ranks below Qatar.

Nonetheless, a report issued last year suggests Qatar is poised to make up ground on its peers. In the WEF’s 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report, Qatar ranked 41st in the world for its attractiveness and ability to develop its travel and tourism industries.

That’s behind the UAE (28th) but still ahead of Bahrain (55th), Oman (57th), Saudi Arabia (62nd) and Kuwait (101st).

Who’s coming to Qatar?

GCC residents currently make up the bulk of visitors here. Local tourism officials have said they want that to change in the coming years, and are aiming to increase the number of guests coming from non-Gulf nations to 64 percent (as opposed to the 16 percent in 2013.)

In general, tourists from further abroad have a greater economic impact on a destination as they tend to spend more nights in hotels, are more likely to shop, eat out at restaurants and visit paid-admission attractions.

However, the latest figures show the proportion of GCC tourists to Qatar is actually increasing.

The number of visitors from the region rose 14.4 percent last year, more than the overall number of tourists.

The current breakdown of guests arriving on tourist or business visas is:

  • GCC: 1,090,239 visitors;
  • Asia: 152,476 visitors;
  • Europe: 35,861 visitors;
  • Non-GCC Arab countries: 34,093 visitors; and
  • Africa: 4,045 visitors.

Hotels

The QTA also released several figures about the performance of hotels across the country:

  • Average occupancy rate rose to 65 percent from 60 percent, even as the supply of hotel rooms increased;
  • Revenues at four and five-star hotels increased by 13 percent to QR3.58 billion (US$980 million). Four and 5-star hotels make up 86 percent of Qatar’s rooms (11,717 of 13,551 rooms);
  • Some 124 hotels are currently planned, which if constructed would add an additional 21,402 rooms, suites and units to the market.

Here’s QTA’s visual breakdown of the report:

Thoughts?

26 COMMENTS

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Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago

No North American,South American or Australian visitors?

Saffa
Saffa
7 years ago

See the report, Oz 0.9k, Nth Am 5.2k Sth Am 4.6k. Guess all the other-halfs on visa runs helped the figures as well.

Ivan Brendieswski
Ivan Brendieswski
7 years ago
Reply to  Saffa

Ah, thanks, I didn’t bother downloading the report, just read the article here. Yeah, those sound like spouse runs and family visits.

SparkyfaeDalry
SparkyfaeDalry
7 years ago

I have never met a “real tourist” here, only people visiting their families that temporary stay in Qatar or Business people who are attending forums / exhibitions etc. really don’t get why a tourist would come here.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  SparkyfaeDalry

If you go to the hotel bars you’ll see the bulk of tourists from Saudi and the rest of the GCC tourists.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  SparkyfaeDalry

Too true, mostly just people visiting family who are here working.

I was thinking of setting up an adventure tourism company, I drive you around Doha and we see if you survive or not..high adrenalin stuff…Sports roundabout, Muathier Roundabout,Equestrian Roundabout are all extra as my Public Liability Insurance wont cover those locations….

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  SparkyfaeDalry

Last week, if you went to the malls, the Pearl, etc. you’ve seen many Saudis tourists. They were easily recognizable by their outfits.

Rapha31
Rapha31
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

What are theses tourists visits in Qatar that is not in KSA?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Rapha31

Sorry, you mean why they come here? I don’t know; more relaxed atmosphere? Being able to walk with your wife, sister, daughter, mother, etc, without being harassed by the religious police. Going to the movies. Not being harassed by the religious police. You could always stop one of them and ask them 😉

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I can see Qatar being a really nice safe haven for Saudis to come and relax and enjoy living life with their spouse.

Doc
Doc
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Or go to a bar and talk to them…………..

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Doc

Bars, what bars :p

Masboro
Masboro
7 years ago

4 million visitors to Bahrain from Saudi last year? Obviously there is more to do there than I thought.

Scousecath
Scousecath
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

It’s the mass weekend exodus from those living in Dhahran area. I lived there up to 3 years ago and went to Bahrain at least once a month so I was obviously classed as a tourist for those 12 visits oh and also fly into and out of Bahrain rather than Saudi so there was an extra 6-8 tourist visits a year!

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

Alcohol?

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

Bahrain is very near to Saudi. Its just 15 minutes away from Dammam and Alkhobar – major metropolitan areas. Qatar, on the other hand, is farther away.

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago
Reply to  Masboro

Yeah but Bahrain has maintained a more relaxed environment for quite some time now. Qatar will catch up… Qatar is catching up very quickly!

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago

People could come as road safety tourists.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
7 years ago

Beer by the pool anyone?

Desert Rose
Desert Rose
7 years ago

I wonder how many of these ‘tourists’ are doing visa-runs from neighbouring countries?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Desert Rose

Same question would apply, even more so, to Bahrain.

truth.e.ness
truth.e.ness
7 years ago

Maybe if Qatar starts paying tourists? If a foreigner at immigration can name something they flew in to see or visit without laughing, they could win a cash prize! Or, there could be the “300 riyal credit on your arrival VISA.” Throwing money at an issue seems to be the answer for most things, right?

koko
koko
7 years ago

I guess the GCC numbers may decrease due to the tensions between them… but I can’t see tourism increasing to 7million or more… they can’t handle the 2+ million in the country at the moment (all the complaints about traffic n expat licenses)… also.. rules changing over nite will not encourage tourism..

Elkhorn
Elkhorn
7 years ago

Qatar was able to convince FIFA to stage the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Can they use that same influence to convince Disney or Universal Studio to build a theme park in Qatar?

Further to that, create a Free “Tourism” Zone in the desert or at the northern area. One where laws are more lax and liberal than in the middle east and Qatar. Promote it to Disney, Universal and other theme park owners. Provide independence of control to these park owners.

At the end, it results in higher tourism from GCC and other countries. This is also an achievement for Qatar, having the first Disneyworld and Universal Studio theme park in the middle east.

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago
Reply to  Elkhorn

Money always talks and Qatar has sooooooo much of it right now. so to answer your question… I think yes. If they pursed something like that I think they could make it happen.

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago

I see quite a few negative comments on on the thought of tourism to Qatar. As I stand at the Villagio near the Aspire tower and look around at nice visuals or I go down to the “W” hotel and party all night long…. I start to think that you guys take Qatar’s future for granted. Look at what Qatar is surrounded by… Saudi, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait (ewww) Unless Iran comes to an agreement with the rest of the world on its Nuclear ambition I don’t see people going there. Saudi is too religious and uncomfortable. Kuwait is just retched! Iraq, well, there is a long time before anyone will want to go relax in Iraq. But people from those countries may want to visit Qatar to escape the stress from home. As Qatar moves closer to the image of Dubai I think the sky is the limit for Qatar. As time goes on I think more Westerners will visit to see the achievements of these people… I’m just sayin… dont discount the future of Qatar. That would be a mistake on your behalf. 😉

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