Qatar tourists keep away from Middle East

June 12, 2011

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Unrest in Arab countries is forcing Qatar tourists to change their summer holiday destinations to Dubai and to Europe with London, Paris, Berlin, Munich and Vienna topping the list, a travel agent has said.

“There has been an overall growth of around 50 per cent in tourist movement towards Europe this summer compared with the corresponding period last year,” PN Sathya Narayanan, manager of Mannai Holidays, said. “The Middle Eastern crisis has played its part in increasing tourist flow to Europe. There has been a sharp decline in tourist movement towards Jordan and Egypt, which are, otherwise, popular among Arabs,” he said, quoted by Qatar Tribune daily.

The decline in numbers is also due to the “relatively short summer vacation this year as the Holy Month of Ramadan begins when summer vacation ends, unlike last year, when Eid holidays started in continuation of summer holidays.”

According to Narayanan, another noticeable trend this summer was the around 30 percent increase in Qataris’ movement towards Switzerland.

“However, Switzerland came after the UK, France, Germany and Austria in terms of popularity,” he said.

The Middle Eastern crisis had also diverted tourist flow towards Dubai, amid a noticeable gain in popularity thanks to the fall in hotel rates and to the packages offered by airlines and travel agents that include shopping, organising tours to the city’s attractions and offering fun and sports opportunities, he said.

In the Far East, popular destinations for Qataris are Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Malaysia is an all-time favourite destination for Arabs because of its Islamic culture, traditions and food. Hong Kong is getting increasingly popular because of the recently opened Disneyland and Singapore is gaining more tourists thanks to its amusement park. The two countries also offer good shopping opportunities,” he said.

Narayanan said that Qataris were also travelling to the Mediterranean region for cruise holidays.

He regretted a lack of initiative among travel agencies in Qatar to popularise new destinations.

“I feel Qataris are willing to try new destinations, but there is little attempt by travel agencies in Qatar to popularise new places. I feel Qataris would also love to travel to Belgium and Scandinavian countries but there is hardly any attempt to popularise them,” he said.



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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