Qatar under pressure to boost tourism amid reports of declining visitor numbers
Porters with their barrows await work outside part of the imposing Souq Waqif tourist attraction in Doha. (Shutterstock/Peter Cowan)
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Qatar must step up efforts to develop the tourism industry amid a 3% decline in tourism numbers in the first three quarters of 2016 over the same period last year, according to a new report by global real estate consulting firm DTZ.
Citing July 2016 figures from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, DTZ said occupancy rates fell from 56% to 53% for the month compared to July 2015.
“Average daily rates remained relatively stable at QR495 compared to QR497 the previous year. In order to maintain, or improve hotel performance measures, Qatar will need to place a heavy emphasis on the development of the tourism industry in the coming years,”DTZ said. It also reported that the Qatar Tourism Authority recently confirmed that tourism numbers for the first nine months of the year are down by 3% on the same period in 2016.
“This is reversal of a trend which has seen tourist number grow consistently over the past five years. The reduction in tourist numbers, albeit minor, has contributed to a decline in occupancy rates and revenues over the past 18 months,” DTZ said.
This year, DTZ said, the supply of hotel rooms and apartment hotels in Qatar breached the 20,700 mark after a surge in hotel openings has increased the supply of keys by 30% since 2014.
According to DTZ, there are currently 123 hotel and hotel apartment establishments in Doha. Of the current supply, approximately 88% is categorised as either 4-Star or 5-Star, it also said.
“This trend is likely to continue in the short term as 85% of upcoming establishments in the development pipeline fall within these high-end categories, although 30% of the development pipeline has yet to be classified,” DTZ pointed out.
DTZ said the 69 buildings that are currently at various stages of construction in Qatar will provide more than 26,000 hotel rooms and hotel apartments. Once completed, DTZ said this will increase overall supply to more than 47,000 rooms. “While Qatar has obligations to provide more than 60,000 hotel rooms for the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the quantity of stock in the pipeline provides concerns of an oversupply within the sector, particularly in the 5 star category,” DTZ said.
It added, “The Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy Plan 2030 has set out a programme to invest $45bn in tourism projects over the next 14 years. The aim of the programme is to attract a larger amount of tourist numbers from outside GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), with an ambitious target to increase overall annual arrivals to 7mn by 2030.”
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