Star hotels in Qatar are enjoying a windfall thanks to the current "surge" in the number of visitors, particularly from the neighbouring countries, Gulf Times has found.

According to online accommodation portal Booking.com many properties in Doha are in high demand based on the reservations made in the past few days, with only five or less rooms available from January 7 to February 6.
Even the hotels that fall in the luxury category were also found to be full to the brim during the one-month period.
Speaking to Gulf Times, an employee of a popular hotel in Doha said the surge could be attributed to the new festival, Shop Qatar, announced recently by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and its partners.
“We are getting an increasing number of bookings every day, and many prefer to stay between January 7 and February 7, the dates of the festival,” he noted.
The first edition of Shop Qatar, under the slogan ‘A Brand New Tradition’, will offer a wide range of discounts and promotions at various retail outlets in participating malls across the country.
The celebration will also include special offers on air and hotel bookings, a chance to win prizes as well as entertainment shows and performances for all ages.
Another employee of a five-star hotel said many of their expected guests are from Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries such as Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the UAE.
“Saudi Arabia has always been our biggest source market and a large percentage of our guests is from this country,” he noted.
“They regularly stay in hotels and shop in Qatar, especially during holidays and when there are special events such as Qatar Summer Festival,” he said, adding that hotels usually offer special packages and promotions to woo such visitors.
Due to the increasing popularity of Qatar as a preferred family destination, he expressed optimism that they would get more bookings in the first week of January.
Many hotels have also reduced their room rates by 12% to 35% with free extra nights while others offer reservations without using a credit card.
The employee said they are also trying to come up with a strategy to attract transit passengers in the coming months.
Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), in association with the Ministry of Interior (MoI) have launched a free transit visa scheme in Qatar that came into effect on November 1, 2016.
Under the new system, travellers with layovers of five hours or more at Hamad International Airport (HIA) can request for a complimentary transit visa. The scheme will allow transiting passengers of all nationalities to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights.
The initiative is aimed at positioning the country as a tourist-friendly destination and attract more international visitors, Qatar Airways had said.
All visas are granted at the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior (MoI).