Qatar woos transit tourists with free stays at luxury hotels

Abdulla Almesleh/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Travelers who choose to stop over in Doha this summer while flying Qatar Airways will now get one free night’s stay at a luxury hotel, the airline has announced.

Participating venues include The Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana. A second night’s stay at some hotels would cost only $50, officials said.

However, this doesn’t apply to all venues. The Four Seasons for example, told Doha News that the second night would cost more.

The offer comes as the country struggles to attract visitors amid growing competition and a down market.

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

It also follows the November rollout of free transit visas for Qatar Airways passengers who are in Doha for five to 96 hours.

Transit traffic

Last year, government figures showed that seven out of every 10 travelers using Qatar’s airport were just passing through, and are not living in or visiting the country.

Fadi Benne

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a statement, a senior Qatar Tourism Authority official (QTA) said this is changing thanks to the new visas.

There was a 53 percent increase in stopover visitors last month, compared to March 2016, Chief Tourism Development Officer Hassan Al-Ibrahim said, adding:

“We aim to convert a larger portion of the 30 million passengers passing through Hamad International Airport into stopover visitors.

We are delighted to make Qatar more accessible to people from around the world and invite them to discover our country, our cultural heritage and our natural treasures.”

Terms and conditions

According to Qatar Airways’ website, tickets for this promotion must be booked by Aug. 31.

But the hotel stay can be used until Sept. 30. However, the offer is not available during either Eid Al Fitr or Eid Al Adha holidays.

Brian Candy/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

First and business class passengers can book one free night at a five-star hotel, and economy travelers can book at a four-star one.

Visitors should be able to schedule their stay online after confirming their “multi-city” flight on Qatar Airways‘ website.

A minimum transiting time of 12 hours is required to use the offer, which is not available to those who book codeshare flights.

Transit visas can also be booked online here, and just like the hotel offer must be done at least seven working days prior to travel.

Other terms and conditions can be found here.

By the numbers

QTA has not released any official tourism figures since the third quarter of last year. At that time, it announced a year-on-year drop in visitors.

However, it’s likely that things have not improved much since then.

Last month, local hoteliers said urgent action must be taken to protect the future of tourism in Qatar.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Amid falling occupancy and room rates, some hotel managers suggested new food and beverage offerings could help boost their bottom lines.

Officials may also be hoping that visitors who aren’t paying for their hotel stays or visas this summer will spend more money on shopping, city tours and desert safaris.

Thoughts?

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