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|29 May, 2018

Arab rift takes toll on Qatar’s tourism: Report

The decline in tourists’ number was ascribed to the drop in the number of arrivals from Gulf nations by 86% in Q1-18

Qatar Airways cabin crew stand in front of an Airbus A350-1000 at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, February 21, 2018.

Qatar Airways cabin crew stand in front of an Airbus A350-1000 at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, February 21, 2018.

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

 Mubasher: Qatar’s tourism sector has been affected negatively by the first anniversary of the gas-rich nation’s diplomatic crisis with four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, as the number of GCC visitors witnessed a drop.

The number of travellers who visited Qatar declined 38% to 535,300 in the first quarter of 2018, from 864,440 in the same period of the previous year.

The decline in tourists’ number was ascribed to the drop in the number of arrivals from Gulf nations by 86% to 54,330 in Q1-18, instead of 394,560 in Q1-17, according to recent reports released by Qatar’s Tourism Authority.

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For the full-year 2017, number of visitors to the Persian Gulf nation went down 23.2% to 2.26 million.

Since 5 June 2017, Qatar has been facing outflows of foreign customers' deposits after four Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - cut their diplomatic and trade ties with the gas-rich state, accusing Qatar of financing terrorism. Doha forcefully denies the charges.

Five-year tourist strategy

Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2017-2023 aims at attracting around 5.6 million visitors by 2023, in addition to increasing the contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) to QAR 41.3 billion by 2023, from QAR 19.8 billion in 2016.

Heavy loss

Qatar Airways Company’s flights went down 27% to 440 flights per day from 600 a day on the back of Qatar-Gulf rift.

The state-run airline’s revenues retreated 20% year-on-year during the previous fiscal year.

In an effort to absorb the losses, the national firm has announced that it will expand its flights to 16 new destinations during 2018 and 2019.

The state-owned flag carrier of Qatar also increased its fleet through signing deals to purchase more aircraft, in addition to acquiring stakes in global flight agencies.

It is worth noting that Qatar Airways has signed letter of intent (LOI) for 5 Boeing 777 freighters with a total value of $1.7 billion.

Precautionary measures

Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has taken a raft of precautionary measures in an attempt to get over the current crisis through providing facilities and exemptions to attract more tourists, but they failed to bear fruit until now.

In August 2017, Qatar’s Tourism Authority decided exempting around 80 nationalities from visas to be able to enter the country.

Translated by: Kholoud Mohamed Hussein

 

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