Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has released its Q3 Tourism Performance Report for 2015, showing a thriving tourist accommodation sector and an 8% increase in the number of foreign visitors received in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014.
The report showed that Qatar received nearly 2.25 million visitors in the first nine months of the year. Occupancy rates in all hotels stood at 71% during the first nine months of 2015, holding steady from the same period in 2014, despite the addition of 15 new hotels to the market.
Susbtantial Growth in GCC Arrivals
Arrivals from the GCC, Qatar’s largest source market, grew substantially in the first nine months of 2015, increasing by 22% as compared to the same period in 2014. The growth was primarily dominated by an increase in visitor arrivals from Saudi Arabia, which grew by 31% in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. The majority of this growth took place in March when visitor arrivals grew by 82% compared to March 2014.
Visitor arrivals from the United Arab Emirates also grew during the first nine months of 2015 (by 13%), while arrivals from Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman increased by 7%, 9% and 2% respectively.
The largest growth in other primary markets, outside of the GCC, included arrivals from France (up 9%), China (up 16%) and the USA. (up 2%).
Visitors arriving in July 2015 increased by 14% compared to the same period last year and 31% compared to the same period in 2013.
Arrival Patterns Year-to-Date
Monthly arrivals to Qatar during the first nine months of 2015 align with previous years’ trends, whereby total arrivals are highest in the months of January and March. Ramadan, which this year began in mid-June compared to late June 2011 last year, had a clear impact on June arrivals, 350,000 which were 8% lower than in 2014 and 2% lower 300,000 than in 2013. Arrivals in July, however, were 14% higher than in 2014, and 31% higher than in 2013, therefore offsetting the falls observed in June.
Looking at arrivals by quarter, greater growth 50,000 was observed in Q1 (11%) than both Q2 (3%) and Q3 (10%). Visitors from the GCC, Europe, Jan Feb and Other Africa regions grew strongly in Q3 in comparison to the same quarter in 2014,whereas other regions such as the Americas,Other Asia, and Other Arab saw arrivals fall or remain unchanged.
Expanding Tourism Accommodation Sector
According to the report, hotel and hotel apartment data showed a positive performance with especially high occupancy rates in 4-star hotels and standard hotel apartments.
The report added that data on hotel apartments for the first nine months of 2015 shows higher occupancy rates than that of hotel properties, with an average of 76% occupancy compared to 71% for hotel properties. In comparison to last year, the average room rate (ARR) decreased in 4-, 2- and 1- star hotels, and increased in 3- and 5- star hotels.
Hassan Abdul Rahman Al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA, said:
The rise in visitor numbers reflects the increase in activity in the tourism sector, specifically the nation-wide events organized by QTA and our partners in the private and public sectors during the summer and Eid seasons. As the country’s calendar of events and conferences reaches its peak in Q4, we expect to cross the 3 million visitor mark before the year’s end. QTA will be intensifying efforts to capitalize on this growth through increased regional and global marketing activity, diversifying Qatar’s tourism products and services, attracting investments to the sector, and establishing Qatar as a destination for cruise ships, which will be bringing hundreds of tourists to Qatar during November.