DOHA — Qatar witnessed a 16.8% increase in visitors in the period coinciding with the month-long Shop Qatar festival compared to the same period last year, Qatar Tourism Authority has announced. Similarly, the hospitality sector enjoyed a 70.5% occupancy rate as guests availed of the festival’s special rates and offers.
Growth in the number of visitors who are GCC nationals was evident in particular as 188,513 GCC nationals visited Qatar on Jan. 7-Feb. 7, an increase of 23% in comparison to the same dates last year.
Much of this growth came from the Saudi market, which brought a total of 133,849 visitors to Qatar over the entire month-long period of Shop Qatar. Arrivals to Qatar peaked during the January school holiday in Saudi Arabia, increasing by 43% in comparison to the January school holiday period in 2016. Hotel occupancy over this holiday period, both weekends included, averaged at 82.3%, with a peak mid-way through the holiday with occupancy rates above 90%.
Over the festival period, the direct impact of inbound tourism on the GDP was estimated at QR 1.06 billion—a tremendous increase from similar estimates during previous festivals.
The direct impact from inbound tourism for August 2016, during which the Qatar Summer Festival was held, was estimated to be QR 639 million. This growth and strong sector performance was supported by Shop Qatar festival activities, offerings and regional promotions, in addition to overlapping festivals around Qatar such as Souq Waqif Spring Festival and Souq Al Wakrah Festival.
To celebrate the event’s impact and the collaborative spirit that helped achieve it, representatives from government agencies, private partners, media, mall participants, local entrepreneurs and volunteers were treated to a grand finale at the City Centre Rotana, where they were congratulated by QTA officials.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said, “Festivals and events are a key component of Qatar’s urban and family entertainment portfolio, which the country has taken great strides in developing in line with the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy and the needs of our visitors. Through exciting new additions to our calendar of events, as well as new retail, entertainment and cultural products, we are building all the ingredients needed for a touristic experience reflective of Qatar and its people. As the tourism sector continues to grow in importance, size and potential, I look forward working with more partners, both government and private sector, to grow our festivals and events, and showcase the best of what Qatar has to offer.”
Spread across ten main locations, Shop Qatar ran from January 7 to February 7 offering residents and visitors a variety of shopping promotions, outdoor activities, live entertainment, beauty and fashion events, musical performances as well as comedy acts.
QTA introduced the annual shopping festival following a notable growth in Qatar’s retail sector, matched by a strong contribution to tourism. According to Qatar’s draft Tourism Satellite Account, shopping represented a larger portion of inbound and domestic tourism spending in 2014 than tourist accommodation or F&B, contributing 6 billion QAR to the economy.
Rashed AlQurese, QTA’s Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer added “the collaborative spirit shown from the various private and public sector partners for the first edition of Shop Qatar has yielded remarkable results across several sectors. This give me confidence that together we can continue to expand this festival in the years to come and reinforce Qatar’s position as a destination of choice for shoppers and families.” — SG