Qatar Tourism Authority released figures today revealing continued growth in Qatar’s expanding tourism industry. The data capturing business and tourists visas were released in QTA’s first quarter (January – March) 2014 report, comparing performance to the same quarter of 2013. All key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth from the previous year comparable period.
Regional and international visitor arrivals totaled 387,022, representing a strong 9% year-on-year increase. Visitors increased from most corners of the globe, with particularly good performance coming from within the GCC countries. Overall, GCC tourists were up by 5%, with Saudi Arabia the largest single source of visitors with 188,621 travelers and Kuwait the fastest growing with 42%. Overall visitors from other parts of the world rose by about26%.
The average hotel occupancy rate rose from 68% to 75%, assisted by the 1.9% decrease in available rooms from 13,551 in Q1 2013 to 13,251 in Q1 2014 due to renovation-related closures. Total Revenue at4 & 5-Star hotels increased by 5.4%, reaching a total of QR 999.4 million for the quarter. For the first time, QTA included 3-star hotel revenue data in the quarterly report, with total revenue reaching QR 1 million in a growing area of the hotel market.
The total number of hotels under construction increased to 125 properties in the first quarter 2014 from 124 at the end of 2013,corresponding to 21,812 rooms expected to be delivered.
In a sign of further development, the first quarter of 2014 saw QTA and public and private sector stakeholders launch the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. Formulated as the roadmap for the development of the industry in the coming decades, it will guide QTA’s efforts towards making Qatar ‘a world-class destination with deep cultural roots.’ QTA has a key role to play in coordinating the development of a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar, and growing tourism’s contribution to a diversified national economy.
A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, and increased regional and international presence during the first quarter of 2014contributed to growth in the leisure sector.
Q1 2014 was marked by the following achievements in Qatar’s tourism sector:
• Proper governance and comprehensive plans, policies, and regulations
o QTA launched the second phase of its cooperation agreement with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), aimed at assessing the current statistical systems, building capacities on a both local regional level, providing internships for QTA staff, technical support for QTA departments, the tourism sector human capital development strategy, and conducting a visa facilitation study
o In February, 24 hotel establishments from the tourism industry in Qatar signed a commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The private sector in Qatar is one of the first in the region to sign the code, with support from government and private sector
o QTA announced the new Tourist Dhow Licensing procedures and standards in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Interior, and Department of Public Transport Affairs
• Sectorial capacity building
o Twenty-four trainees were selected to join the “Tour Guide License Program”, a tour guide training course in collaboration with Stenden University
o Conducting training courses for large events with Josoor Institute
• Diversification and development of Qatar’s tourism product and service portfolio
o Hosting large-scale events, conferences and exhibitions, such as the Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition 2014, the fourth Qatar International Motor Show and “Tourism in Tomorrow’s World”
o Attracting more domestic and regional tourists through seasonal festivals such as SouqWaqif Spring Festival, and the fifth International Festival for Falcon and Hunting, Leshtah Festival 2014, the Fifth International Food Festival and increasing live family entertainment such as Cirque Éloize and Disney Live
o Hosting a range of high-quality sporting events, such as the Qatar Total Open and Qatar ExxonMobil Open in tennis
o Traditional competitions and events drove regional and domestic tourism and excursions such as Desert Caravan Challenge in February, which attracted 55 participants who undertook the challenge in the two-day event at the Zubarah fort. Also the annual Sinyar and Al Galayel competitions also witnessed an unprecedented participation both on a local and a regional level. The challenge falls within QTA’s objectives to offer authentic Qatari experiences to attract international tourists
• Expanding market exposure
o QTA led Qatar’s delegation at ITB Berlin, the biggest European travel trade show. QTA utilized the occasion to hold buyers meetings and interact with counterparts in the European tourism industry, setting the stage for increased tourist growth from the region
o In the beginning of theyear, QTA welcomed the players and staff of Paris Saint-Germain men’s football team for their annual Winter Tour, training camp and friendly with Real Madrid in Qatar. Over the past few months, Parisians have been exposed toadvertising about Qatar across their city – from large scale billboards located in high-traffic spots to advertising at the Charles De Gaulle Airport. Featuring Paris Saint-Germain players along with iconic Qatari landmarks, this campaign positioned Qatar as the official destination of Paris Saint-Germain
o QTA led Qatar’s delegation at the GIBTM in Abu Dhabi, aiming at promoting and marketing the destination and to establish long term relationship with industry stakeholders in target markets and increase their awareness of the tourism products and services in Qatar
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