Qatar to hold its first shopping festival next year

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Osarieme Eweka/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Officials in Qatar are planning to launch a new shopping festival next year as part of plans to woo more visitors to the country with a spot of retail therapy.

The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced plans for the new event this week, but gave no details about when it would take place or what it would entail.

Speaking to Doha News, QTA said a full announcement will be made next month.

City Center entertainment

QTA

City Center entertainment

It added that the event is part of a strategy “to grow and diversify Qatar’s tourism offering, particularly in the area of family and urban entertainment.”

Shopping focus

The focus on shopping is because visitors who come to Qatar spend more on this than on hotel stays or eating out, QTA said.

In 2014, visitors racked up a shopping bill of some QR6 billion.

The festival will likely boost footfall in some of the new commercial centers that are scheduled to open in the coming months.

That includes Mall of Qatar on Dec. 10 and Doha Festival City in February.

It may take inspiration from Dubai, which has held a successful month-long shopping festival from the end of December until late January for years.

Every year, the event brings in around 4.5 million visitors who spend some Dh15 billion in the Emirate.

More visitors

Tourism figures took a dip in Qatar this year, with figures for the first six months down 6 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

But in addition to the shopping fest, QTA is hoping to boost visitor numbers with some of its existing events next year. This includes the food festival in March and its annual summer festival.

2016 Qatar International Food Festival

Brian Candy / Doha News

2016 Qatar International Food Festival

These events are already popular with visitors from neighboring Gulf states, who travel to Qatar for short trips.

Other strategies include putting Doha on the Gulf cruise ship destination list. This season, around 30 ships will dock at the port by the Museum of Islamic Art.

And earlier this month, a four-day free transit visa was launched.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jiseon Shin/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This enables travelers passing through Hamad International Airport on Qatar Airways to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.

However, visas are granted based on the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior, and must be applied for at least seven days in advance, Qatar Airways said in a statement at the time.

Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to grant visitors from the populous countries of India, Russia and China tourist visas on arrival.

By 2030, Qatar ambitiously hopes to increase the number of visitors to the country to 7 million people annually.

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