Qatar saw a 16.8% increase in visitor arrivals during the month-long Shop Qatar festival compared to the same period last year, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has said.
From January 7 to February 7, QTA noted that Qatar’s hospitality sector also recorded a 70.5% occupancy rate with guests availing the festival’s special offers.
Based on QTA’s records, 188,523 nationals from various GCC countries visited Qatar in the period coinciding with the festival, an increase of 23% compared to the same period last year.
“Much of this growth came from the Saudi market, bringing a total of 133,849 visitors to Qatar over the month-long period of the festival,” QTA noted.
Many of the visitors arrived during the January school holiday in Saudi Arabia, a 43% in increase compared to same occasion in 2016. Hotel occupancy, both weekends included, reached 82.3% on the average with a peak mid-way through the holiday with occupancy rates above 90%.
QTA said the direct impact of inbound tourism on the gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at QR1.06bn, a substantial increase from similar estimates during previous festivals.
In August 2016, inbound tourism’s impact on the GDP during the Qatar Summer Festival was estimated to be QR639mn.
Besides festival activities, offerings and regional promotions, other festivals around Qatar such as the Souq Waqif and Souq Al Wakrah festivals have contributed significantly in tourism growth and strong sector performance.
“Through exciting new additions to our calendar of events, as well as new retail, entertainment and cultural products, we are building all the ingredients needed for a touristic experience reflective of Qatar and its people,” QTA chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim said in a statement.
QTA introduced the first edition of Shop Qatar following a notable growth in Qatar’s retail sector, matched by a strong contribution to tourism.
The festival featured an array of live entertainment and cultural shows, outdoor activities, beauty and fashion events, shopping promotions, musical performances, comedy acts, and a QR1mn mega draw, among others.
According to Qatar’s draft Tourism Satellite Account, shopping represented a larger portion of inbound and domestic tourism spending in 2014 than tourist accommodation or F&B, contributing QR6bn to the economy.
“The collaborative spirit shown from the various private and public sector partners for the first edition of Shop Qatar has yielded remarkable results across several sectors,” QTA’s chief marketing and promotion officer Rashed al-Qurese said.
“This gives me confidence that together we can continue to expand this festival in the years to come and reinforce Qatar’s position as a destination of choice for shoppers and families,” he added.
Shop Qatar also featured 30 pop up shops at various participating malls, which showcased locally designed and produced items.