Qatar records surge in GCC and European visitors

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The Gulf nation is easing travel restrictions and requirements in an effort to grow the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP.

Qatar has witnessed a significant rise in the number of Gulf and European visitors in the last month, a new report by Qatar’s Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed.

In March 2022, the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) visitors increased to 34.5% of the total visitors to the country, recording 52,691 from the Gulf, compared to 18,610 in February 2022 and just 2,670 in March 2021.

The numbers indicate a whopping 1,873.4% increase compared to last year and a month-on-month increase of 183.1%.

Outside the region, visitors from Europe were the second largest after GCC in March with 37,490 visitors, compared to just over 20,000 visitors in the month before.

Meanwhile, the country saw 36,969 visitors from Asia, including Oceania. Arab countries other than the GCC recorded 11,736 visitors, Americas 10,705, and non-Arab African countries 3,173 in March of this year alone.

In total, Doha recorded 152,772 visitor arrivals in the same month, 90,677 which were by air, 8,4885 by sea, and 43,610 by land.

A year of booming tourism

Qatar Tourism announced that the Gulf nation saw an influx in visitors in the first quarter of 2022, recording almost a seven-fold increase compared to previous years.

The data revealed that between January and March 2022, the number of visitors hit a total of 316,000, compared to 2020 and 2021 full-year figures of 581,000 and 611,000, respectively. 

Busy airports

In April, new data by a global travel data provider revealed that the Doha to London Heathrow route was ranked among the top 10 busiest international routes by region.

Despite the pandemic, Hamad International Airport (HIA) hit a high of 41.37% increase in passenger footfall with 17.7 million passengers served in 2021 compared to 2020. In the Middle Eastern category, Doha to London recorded 138,796 occupied seats in April to place in the top 10.

In addition, Doha was ranked sixth in the top ten airports with the highest international patronage (17,701,978), only behind Dubai, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris airports, according to the Airports Council International (ACI) 2021 report.

The council also ranked Doha in the top ten in terms of air cargo, with 2.6 million tonnes handled in 2021.

Easier restrictions, higher tourism

In recent months, the Gulf nation has been relaxing its travel restrictions and requirements in preparation for the grand event in November and to encourage the facilitation of travel.

On the regional level, efforts are underway by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to further facilitate the movement of GCC nationals among countries within the GCC. Among them is allowing Qataris to use their ID cards to travel to all GCC countries and back.

In addition, a number of countries are now exempt from registering online through the Covid-19 tracking application Ehteraz before entering Qatar, including GCC nationals and residents, European Union nationals and residents, and United kingdom nationals and residents.

This comes as part of plans to increase the number of visitors to Qatar threefold, grow the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP to 12% by 2030, and target 50 new hotels to open by the end of 2022, sources stated.