Record month for tourism in Qatar, but hotel occupancy falls
Some 305,014 visitors traveled to Qatar in March, setting a record in terms of the number of tourists to the country in a single month, officials said.
The peak coincides with schools’ spring break in Saudi Arabia, which ran from March 9 to 18, as Qatar continues to draw more visitors from that country and others in the region.
During the first three months of this year, a total of 822,626 people entered Qatar, according to visitor stats.
That’s down 2 percent from the same period last year due to fewer visitors from non-GCC Arab countries, the Americas, Europe and Asian countries, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said in a statement.
While not detailed by QTA, these figures likely include not just tourists, but people also traveling on work and business visas.
Meanwhile, the number of international tourists – classified as those on “leisure visit visas” including tourist visas, family visit visas, personal visit visas and transit visas, went up 6 percent from January to March, compared to the same period last year.
This bump was mostly driven by tourists from Gulf countries, which increased 11 percent compared to the same quarter in 2015.
Travelers from Saudi Arabia continue to boost Qatar’s tourism figures, as they were up 16 percent year-on-year, while there were 14 percent more tourists from the UAE and 2 percent more from Bahrain.
Meanwhile, as more hotels open in Qatar, competition is heating up for guests.
Government figures show that occupancy fell to 70 percent during the first three months of the year.
That’s down 14 percent compared to the first quarter of 2015.
This also translates to lower revenue per room, which dropped 21 percent for hotels and 14 percent for apartment-hotels, according to the quarterly figures.
Hotels have managed to off-set most of these losses through increased income from their restaurants and other facilities, QTA said.
Qatar’s hotel building spree, ahead of the World Cup in 2022, has increased the amount of accommodation in the country by 11 percent compared to last March.
The opening of new establishments is putting pressure on existing hotels to attract guests, and real estate experts previously said that hotels in Qatar will likely drop their rates for the fourth year in a row.