The outlook for Qatar’s tourism looks promising as the country becomes a more popular travel destination with the approach of the FIFA 2022 World Cup and the implementation of its 2030 Vision focusing on diversification and emphasising the role of tourism, according to Bank Audi.
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“It is clear that Qatar has a well-developed tourism sector that is continuously benefiting from the ongoing investment and transport infrastructure improvement,” the bank said, finding that the country’s tourism industry has maintained its role in the country’s diversification strategy over the past year, as the government and private industry continued to invest in the sector.
Direct contribution from travel and tourism to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $5.2bn in 2015 (2.8% of GDP) and is expected to grow by 4.3% in the current year, as per the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC).
In this context, leisure travel spending captured a higher share of the direct travel and tourism GDP compared to business travel spending, Bank Audi said.
Furthermore, travel and tourism investment registered $1.8bn (2.2% of total investment) in 2015, up from $1.6bn in 2014, it said, adding this is forecast to rise by 17.5% in 2016, according to WTCC.
The hosting of international sports events like the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in addition to business tourism which is growing due to increased exhibitions, plays a supportive role in the growth of the sector, despite some concerns over regional instability, the Bank Audi said in its report.
During the first quarter (Q1) of 2016, a total of 822,626 people entered Qatar, down 2% from the same period last year due to fewer visitors from non-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Arab countries, the Americas, Europe and Asian countries, according to the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).
Nonetheless, the number of international tourists classified as those on “leisure visit visas” – including tourist visas, family visit visas, personal visit visas and transit visas – increased by 6% from January to March 2016, compared to the same period last year.
This increase was mainly driven by a rise in the number of tourists from the Gulf countries, it said, adding these rose by a yearly 11% in Q1, 2016. Travellers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain rose by a yearly 16%, 14% and 2% respectively.
Analysing the performance of four and five star hotels in Doha, Bank Audi said occupancy was at 69% in 2015, slightly under its level of 70% in 2014.
The average room’s rate stood at $240 last year, up 2.1% year-on-year. This left the rooms’ yield at $166 in 2015, unchanged from its level in the previous year.
During Q1, 2016, a slowdown in the performance was encountered, whereby occupancy rate stood at 73% down from 76% period of last year.
Alongside, the average room rate declined by a yearly 14.7% to stand at $227 in the review period of this year. Hence, the rooms’ yield fell 18.5% from $204 in Q1, 2015 to $166 in Q1, 2016.
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