The UK and Switzerland are the two most popular destinations for many Qataris vacationing abroad during this Eid al-Fitr holidays, a number of travel agencies have said.
These two countries have good weather and they are also safe, like many other European destinations, and halal food is also available in several hotels and restaurants for Muslim visitors, a travel agent told Gulf Times.
‘London has always been a favourite,’ he said. ‘Paris (France) and Istanbul (Turkey) have been left behind because of safety concerns , I suppose.’
Last week, Turkey suffered yet another terror attack at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, leaving more than 40 dead and hundreds injured.
He added that even regular customers who frequently travel to Turkey, mostly Qatari families, have cancelled their bookings this Eid and opted for Switzerland. Some will be travelling to other European countries such as Germany, Italy and Austria.
While families have booked their vacations in UK destinations such as Edinburgh, Scotland, others will be going to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, according to the travel agent.
Besides Europe, it is learnt that three Southeast Asian countries are also becoming popular for many Qataris, especially during the Eid holidays.
An employee of another agency noted that Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have been drawing an increasing number of Qatari and Emirati vacationers.
‘Thailand offers a lot of things such as delicious food, beaches (outside Bangkok), medical tourism and spa, as well as other touristic attractions,’ he said. ‘It is also family-friendly and halal food is found almost everywhere.’
The Thai embassy in Doha posted a 21.54% increase in the number of visitors from Qatar (mostly Qataris) in 2015 compared to 2014. Meanwhile, the embassy of Singapore saw a 4.1% increase in arrivals last year.
Malaysia, like Singapore, also gets a fair share of Qatari visitors because of the modern tourism infrastructure and easy availability of halal food in restaurants and hotels.
The travel agent also observed that many Qatari families who spent their vacation in these three countries last year have booked their holidays again for the same destinations.
‘In fact, they have even booked the same hotel where they had stayed last time, which means they enjoyed their stay there previously,’ he added.
Based on the travel agency’s records, around 80% of Qatari customers prefer European countries over other places during the Eid holidays. Some 10% go to Asia while the remaining 10% prefer to visit other GCC countries such as the UAE and Oman.
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