After government efforts to promote Qatar as a leisure, culture and sports destination, inbound tourism in the country is expected to increase by about 7.5% a year over the next five years, says a new report from Timetric.
Until now, Qatar has mainly been considered as a business travel destination. In 2013 business trips alone accounted for 66% of the total inbound tourism, with most of its tourists coming from countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, with its newly developed strategy, the Qatari government aims to focus on the development of leisure and cultural tourism. Timetric predicts that with the successful implementation of the strategy Qatar will receive 3.7 million tourists in 2018.
Promoting Qatar as a leisure and culture-led tourism destination will be supported by recent changes in issuing visas. As an example, visa on arrival facilities for countries such as France and the UK encouraged tourism at respective growth rates of 88% and 27% in 2013. Moreover, the number of tourists visiting Qatar is set to increase due to the Ministry of Interior’s initiative to issue joint visas in 2011. As a result, tourists from 33 countries, including the US, Hong Kong, Germany and the UK, can now travel to Qatar and Oman on a single visa.
The launch of new hotels in Qatar will also support the development of Qatar as holiday and leisure destination. Qatar aims to build more than 170 new hotels to accommodate the expected 500,000 fans who will visit the country for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.