View of departures area at Hamad International airport in Doha,Qatar, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Deepa Babington Reuters View of departures area at Hamad International airport in Doha,Qatar, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Deepa Babington Reuters

Qatar refuses to admit consequences of boycott on tourist industry

Wed, Jun. 28, 2017
CAIRO – 28 June 2017: Qatar is believed to be providing inaccurate data about its economic and political situation following the recent severance of diplomatic ties by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the U.A.E. against the government of Qatar. This is thought to be an attempt to mislead Qatar’s neighbors as to the true extent of the consequences of the boycott imposed against the small Gulf nation.

The slump in the Qatari tourism sector is a clear sign that the Gulf state is unable to adequately withstand the effects of the recent diplomatic crisis. Qatari hotels who have previously hosted considerable numbers of tourists are witnessing far lower footfall, with only 57 percent of hotels occupied on the Eid al-Fitr holiday than in the previous year.

The same applies to the national air carrier Qatar Airways. Hamad International Airport in Doha, one of the most active airports in the Middle East, will handle only 76 percent of the total number of flights recorded at the beginning of July in the same period last year, thus losing a predicted 27,000 passengers per day. Passengers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states represent approximately half of total number of travelers to Qatar annually and 25 percent of Qatar Airways flights; consequently the Arab state’s joint decision to enforce a Qatar travel ban on June 5 has disastrously influenced travel movements for the Gulf nation.

This information stands in contrast to statements from Qatar. On June 14, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Bakr announced that most of the company's operations were not affected by the restrictions imposed by the four Arab countries. A further statement from the Hamad International Airport on Tuesday stated that it had witnessed a “very busy” holiday period over Eid al-Fitr, but did not give any figures for comparison.

The Qatari committee concerned with hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup Championship denied any potential negative consequences on Qatar’s ability to host the international sporting competition due to the recent sanctions imposed on the country. The committee confirmed that 46,000 hotel rooms will be ready for hosting fans by 2022. Qatar currently has 119 hotels with 23,347 rooms, according to the Qatar Tourism Authority’s statistics from March 2017.

Qatar may bear further economic losses in many other sectors of society if the diplomatic boycott continues amid the Qatari government’s refusal to address the crisis.

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