The major breakthrough in the journey towards resolving the three-year Gulf crisis, which was achieved on Tuesday at the 41st GCC Summit in Saudi Arabia, is seen as key indicator of growth in Qatar’s local tourism business, according to an industry expert.
Speaking to Gulf Times Wednesday, Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed said the reopening of Saudi Arabia’s airspace and sea border, as well as Abu Samra, the only land border that connects Qatar and the kingdom, would usher in an influx of tourists, especially families who have been separated since the June 2017 blockade.
“This is definitely good news for the travel and tourism industry because at least the borders are now open and we can expect a surge of tourists coming into Qatar in the coming period,” Syed pointed out.
However, Syed stressed that the key to attracting more tourists into the country depends on the progress in combating the spread of Covid-19. He said quarantine and other health restrictions factor heavily on people’s decision to travel.
Citing the reopening of the Qatar-Saudi border, Syed noted that the necessary procedures and facilities or equipment are yet to be in place to monitor the health condition of people crossing the border.
He said there are many events lined up in Qatar, such as the FIFA Club World Cup 2020, which is slated next month, that would attract many visitors and fans, especially from neighbouring GCC states.
Aside from sporting events, Syed emphasised that Qatar has a lot of tourism destinations to offer, as well as malls, hotels, and theme parks that were not opened since the blockade started three years ago.
Prior to the blockade, Syed said hotels in Qatar hosted a lot of Saudis and their families for their weekend getaways. He said because Qatar is accessible by land in just a few hours, many Saudis prefer to enjoy the entertainment and shopping experience available here.
“Once travel restrictions related to Covid-19 have been sorted out, with the availability of vaccines here and other parts of the world, and the opening of the Qatar-Saudi border, we are looking forward to a surge in tourism activities and influx of visitors in the coming period,” Syed said.