Qatar saw a massive jump in the number of visitors from the Gulf region in 2011, with 50% more than the previous year.
International tourism figures also soared with 12% more visiting Qatar in 2011.
More than 845,630 tourists from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region visited Qatar last year, increasing hotel occupancy by 19.25% and four-and five-star hotels recording some QR5bn in revenue, latest statistics by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) show.
Asian tourists accounted for some 58% of the total visitors. Tourists from Arab countries increased by 19.13% and from European countries by 15%.
Eight new hotels opened in Qatar in 2011, bringing the number of hotels to 74 and hotel rooms to 11,341 in 2011 (compared to 5,974 in 2010), an 18.45% increase.
Despite the increase in hotel room stock, occupancy rates remained steady at 59% for the year, with January and February recording the highest percentage, spurred by the Asian Football Cup and other major events. This period also saw an increase in revenue of 19.25% for the five- and four-stars hotels as their income reached QR2.77bn in 2011, compared to QR2.32bn in 2010 with earnings from rooms and food as well as beverage operations accounting for the largest proportion.
QTA chairman Ahmed al-Nuaimi said the statistics highlighted that Doha was on track to become one of the main tourist spots for GCC citizens and residents.
He said that business tourism accounted for 72% of the number of visitors received by Qatar last year. The QTA’s strategy of targeting high-end tourism was showing results, he added.
“Tourism is central to Qatar’s vision of creating a diversified and sustainable economy,” he said. “These strong results can be attributed to the growth of the hospitality industry, especially in the area of hotels and resorts as well as our strategy to target travellers transiting to stop in Doha.”
Al-Nuaimi hoped that 2012 would be another landmark year for Qatar’s tourism sector.
“We will see 3,500 new hotel rooms come online with the addition of new hotels,” he said. “We will also continue our successful efforts at marketing Qatar as a destination as well as bringing large scale events and conferences to Doha. We will also build on these results with a promotional campaign later this year targeting the GCC countries.”