After oil prices have finally began to recover from the slump, hotel occupancy rate in Qatar is expected to gain momentum this year, two top hoteliers have said.
The rate, which declined 2 percent in 2016, has already started showing signs of revival, City Centre Rotana General Manager Martin Kendall told Qatar Tribune recently.
The recovery of oil prices has had a major effect on the economy leading to a jump in the number of retail outlets, he said, adding that this, along with the preparations for the run-up to FIFA World Cup 2022, would boost occupancy rates in hotels.
Calling Doha as “the undisputed capital of international conferences” because of the country’s robust economic growth, Kendall said the increase in the number of new hotels in the capital city despite competition attest to that description. “Doha has become a regional capital for political, economic, and media conferences,” he said.
Rotana, GM of The City Centre said the hotels would have to offer the best of services to attract guests and the food and beverage segment (F&B) would play a crucial role in attracting visitors.
In the first year of operations, Kendall said, City Centre Rotana drew a good response from customers, who comprised a mix of domestic, regional and international tourists. There has been an increase in the number of large-scale events in Doha across sectors and these were a major draw for tourists, especially from abroad, he noted.
Mashour Refai’s, the General Manager of Concorde Hotel in Doha, optimism about the hospitality sector is backed by a recent report from BMIS which says Qatar’s inbound tourism is expected to rise by 5.4 percent in 2017 compared to last year.
According to the BMI report, growth over the next five years is expected to be strong, as the plans to become a tourist and travel hub continue to advance.
Refai said the government’s decision to make transit visa free for short stopovers in Qatar (96-hour visa) has also spurred tourist arrivals in the country.
The initiative, he said, was bringing in a lot of transit passengers to Doha.”This will push the occupancy rate up this year,” he added.
The report also noted that tourism has been identified as one of the key areas of diversification for the Qatari economy, and the tourism industry is beginning to catch up with the more developed industries of its neighbours.