Leisure tourism is expected to drive the hospitality sector in Qatar as a pipeline of mixed-use projects are completed in the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The country was at an ‘inflection point’ prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by ValuStrat, but like destinations globally, experienced a dip in foreign arrivals that continued into early 2021.
However, an increase in domestic tourism in the country eased some of the burden of the fall in foreign visitors, ValuStrat said in its report, The Qatar Hospitality Market, 2019-2022.
“Travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic have facilitated the growth of “staycations”,” the report said.
“This is corroborated by the fact that despite a 73 percent annual fall in international visitors in Qatar during 2020, occupancy of hotels merely reduced by 10 percent year-on-year, averaging at 54 percent by end of 2020.”
The report added: “Leisure tourism is projected to drive the hospitality sector in the medium term as travel restrictions are lifted globally. Qatar has a pipeline of mixed-use projects of distinctive hotels, resorts, attractions and massive retail offerings which are expected to be a catalyst of the growth of demand for tourism.”
ValuStrat highlighted projects which include a water park with the world’s highest water slide, and Place Vendome, a super-regional mall, projected to open by the end of 2021, which will feature a canal running to the sea.
The report also said Qatar’s government has focused on the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) segment to drive tourism, with 39 percent of total spending by tourists in 2019 from business travel, which reduced to 34 percent in 2020.
While the segment may be ‘at risk’ as virtual events are becoming commonplace, it is unlikely that online platforms will fully replace traditional events, the report said, with it possibly evolving using online and offline methods to ensure growth.
(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Brinda Darasha)
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