Doha: Istanbul, London and Paris have regained their spots as the top destinations for travellers from Qatar. According to an industry expert, the gradual or, in some cases, total removal of COVID-19 restrictions in most tourist hotspots has encouraged citizens and residents to travel to these destinations, especially for the upcoming Eid and the summer months.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourism continued its recovery in January 2022, with much better performance than the weak start of 2021. World arrivals more than doubled (+130%) compared to January 2021, an increase of 18 million.

“The traffic flow for those leaving the country for vacation is high,” Irfan Omer, Operations Manager at Happy Journey Travels, told The Peninsula. “For the coming Eid, people are already booking trips to Istanbul, London, and Paris, which have been the usual spots for most people, especially now that the restrictions have been removed or reduced in most countries.”

Around this time last year, industry experts reportedly recorded more bookings for trips to Turkey, Ukraine and Russia — with cities like Antalya, Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg the top destinations. 

“The bookings for St. Petersburg (Russia) and several cities in Ukraine which were highly sought after last year have dropped to zero, mainly due to the ongoing war,” Omer noted. He, however, stressed that many travellers from Qatar vacationed in Russia and Ukraine because most parts of Europe required more stringent measures for entry due to the pandemic last year.

“Now London and other cities are fully open, so the travel destinations have gradually shifted to the usual,” he added. Besides, travellers’ confidence has been boosted again after rumours circulating on social media about an entry ban for residents who aren’t in the country by July were debunked by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

Meanwhile, local tourism and staycations are also at respectable numbers. A recent data from Qatar Tourism revealed that the number of visitors to Qatar between January and March 2022 reached 316,000, compared to the full-year figures from 2020 and 2021, which stood at 581,000 and 611,000, respectively.

“We are seeing good numbers so far, and many resorts like the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas and Banana Island are top choices, especially among Qataris,” Omer added.

Qatar Tourism has announced that it plans to add 50 new hotels by the end of the year. It also aims to double the sector’s employment appeal through six demand spaces, including active holidays; relaxation and rejuvenation; sun, sea and sand; cultural enthusiasts; luxury city breaks; and romantic getaways.


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