Hotels enjoy 'high occupancy despite blockade'
July 23 2017 10:16 PM
Sheraton Grand Doha general manager Saeid Heidari. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Sheraton Grand Doha general manager Saeid Heidari. PICTURE: Jayan Orma

Doha

*Qataris and other residents decided to spend their Eid holidays in Qatar
*Hotel occupancy got a boost from the arrival of many Kuwaitis and Omanis
*Moderate pricing “a big factor” in enhancing occupancy
*Move to open up the visa-on-arrival facility to more than 30 new nationalities


Hotels in Qatar enjoyed high occupancy levels during the Eid al-Fitr holidays despite the economic blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, according to an official at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel.

Saeid Heidari, Sheraton Grand Doha general manager, said the hotel was “doing better business” compared to the previous year, citing “higher” occupancy rates and revenue.
Heidari said Sheraton recorded a 23.71% year-on-year increase in hotel occupancy, but he noted that occupancy during the Eid holidays “were better”.
In 2016, Heidari said rooms in most hotels “were normally sold out for a maximum of three days” and enjoyed 70% to 80% occupancy on two additional days. But for this year’s Eid, Heidari said the Sheraton was sold out for seven consecutive days, adding that occupancy “was at the high 80% levels on the succeeding days”.
“During Eid, occupancy was around 55% to 60% for Qataris and around 20% to 22% for Kuwaitis and Omanis, while the rest were residents and other expatriates,” Heidari told Gulf Times.
Aside from “moderate pricing”, which, according to Heidari was “a big factor” in enhancing occupancy levels, he said hotels benefited from the decision of Qataris and other residents to spend their Eid holidays in Qatar. Occupancy also got a boost from the arrival of many Kuwaitis and Omanis, he said.
Heidari also lauded the efforts of Qatar Airways to enhance the country’s connectivity to world. “We need a national carrier to bring in more people and Qatar Airways is doing a phenomenal job,” he said, citing the airline’s growth in fleet.
“Qatar Airways is doing an extremely good job in making Qatar a hub, and it is extremely important to have connectivity because people will not come if you’re not connected,” he pointed out.
Another factor that drives additional business, according to Heidari, is tourism infrastructure. He noted that Qatar’s hospitality industry offers a range of choices that cater to different types of markets.
Further, Heidari lauded the recent move to open up the visa-on-arrival facility to more than 30 new nationalities. He said the initiative “will open a lot of opportunities to boost the tourism industry of the country”.
Also, it was reported last month that the Ministry of Interior, Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority had launched an e-visa platform through which visitors to Qatar could directly apply for tourist visas.
Tourist visa applications can now be completed on the new e-visa platform, which is currently in pilot phase, at www.qatarvisaservice.com
The new service is set to ease visitor access to Qatar, as it offers a more efficient and transparent visa application system, with standardised fees. Previously, applicants for tourist visas were required to submit their applications through accredited Qatar-based entities, such as hotels and tour operators. Now, travellers can apply directly and track the status of their application online.



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