Qatar residents have shown a great appetite for travelling, either taking a short break or going for long vacations, despite the ongoing blockade on the country, a veteran travel agent has said.
“Qatar has shown it is strong and the people have gone ahead with their travel plans with full confidence,” Al Tawfeeq Travel country head Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the opening of the Portugal Week at the Mall of Qatar recently. Al Tawfeeq Travel was a sponsor. 
Syed stressed that residents pursued their travel itineraries even when the blockade was imposed on June 5 last year.
“When people looked at it, it was absolutely normal and nothing to worry, so they just went ahead with their plans, it was like business as usual,” he pointed out. 
The travel agency witnessed what it described as “a tremendous opportunity on travel,” citing its big departures to Georgia.
Besides the visa on arrival privilege for Qatar residents, Syed noted that Georgia also offers a very competitive price as a destination.
He said some airlines, such as Salam Air, are filling the slots for Georgia now, apart from Qatar Airways’ daily flights.
“I think all the major Qatar Airways sectors are doing fantastically well and East Europe is also picking up, including Bosnia and Armenia,” Syed stressed. “Also Portugal, I hope will come up very soon with Lisbon, and I am sure there is a big potential to grow in this market.”
He cited Turkey’s charm, saying that the destination is also continuously attracting many travellers from Qatar, especially during the Eid al-Fitr holidays. “Eid was good and flights have been full.”
Syed also lauded Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) saying it “is doing a fabulous job” for attracting more tourists from different parts of the world and for supporting travel agencies.
Citizens of 80 nationalities can now enter the country visa-free, while others can apply for visas online with ease. 
“I think if we don’t get the support from QTA it will be very difficult to promote this, they are willing to work with us on how to get more people,” Syed said.
In the Gulf region, he noted that many residents prefer travelling to Kuwait and Oman especially during winter.
Last year, Al Tawfeeq Travel saw a surge towards Kuwait, which it considered a shopping destination.
“Whatever the circumstances have been, travel is always there, whether it is good or bad, it is always an opportunity to travel,” he explained. 
“There were some effects (of the blockade) but I think the country has been robust, we have come out very well and people have shown resilience and they have been very supportive,” Syed explained.
“We have seen a tremendous growth in travel last year where our market registered almost double digit growth.”
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