Europe’s weather conditions affect Qataris’ travel plans

January 2, 2011

Europe’s extreme weather conditions have reportedly forced people in Qatar to cancel their trips abroad and celebrate the holidays at home.

“Like every year, we offer New Year packages to various destinations, but there were no many takers this time,” a travel company agent said.

“However, there has been a drop in demand for holiday tour packages. The demand was better last year. More people seem to have opted not to travel out, perhaps due to the terrible weather conditions,” he said, quoted by Qatari dailyThe Peninsula.

The only good demand this year from Qataris was for the Umrah tour packages.

“Many Qataris find this as the best season to perform Umrah before Saudi Arabia starts issuing Umrah visas to other nationalities. They can take advantage of the attractive flight and hotel tariffs as well as the less crowded surroundings in the holy sites in Makkah and Medina,” he said.

Saudi Arabia suspends the issuing of Umrah visas for some weeks after the Haj to ensure that Haj areas do not get overcrowded.

However, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals do not need visas to enter the country.

The agent said that travel patterns among Qatar-based passengers were witnessing changes.

“There are no longer seasonal fluctuations in ticket fares in Qatar following the introduction of different categories of fares by the airlines. Now, there are no seasonal fares in Qatar now. If you book early, you get a better fare. You can book now a flight scheduled for next July and avail of a cheaper fare,” he said.

According to field professionals, both the airline and hospitality industries are awaiting a boom in business in the next few months, with more events and activities planned in the country.

“Hotel occupancy rates normally come down in December, due to a drop in the number of visitors from abroad during Christmas and New Year,” said sources from a leading hotel.

“The majority of Qatar’s guests are people coming on business visit and for conferences. With the Doha Asian Games this month and several conferences scheduled for the coming months, we are expecting a surge in business.”

The sources said that the opening of several new hotels in the city and the stiff competition in the sector had affected their business badly reducing occupancy to about 30 per cent during December, the daily reported.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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