The diverse tourism offerings in Qatar are attracting more foreign tourists this winter, from cultural and historical visits to desert safari adventures, a number of tour operators have said.
While the winter season is apparently the best time to visit the country, tour operators told Gulf Times that “creating unique and memorable travel experience” further entices tourists to consider a destination in their bucket list.
Arabian Adventures Qatar CEO Hassen Mohamed A Hijji said several tour packages have become appealing to both domestic and foreign visitors.
“We have been fully booked prior to the onset of winter, which is a peak season, and we expect more people in the coming weeks,” he noted, adding that they witnessed an increasing number of visitors compared to last year in the same period.
Hassen Mohamed A Hijji
Hijji lauded Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) for its visa facilitation measures such as the visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries and the free-of-charge transit visa – making Qatar one of the top tourism destinations in the region.
Based on QTA’s records, the number of stopover passengers entering the country has increased by 34% between January and November compared to the corresponding period in 2016.
Hijji stressed that the number of foreign tourists is expected to surge in the near future, citing the continuing development of tourism infrastructure in the country.
Part of the new five-year national tourism sector strategy includes identifying six geographic zones across Qatar and tying each zone to tourism themes based on the area’s geographic characteristics and natural assets.
The zone of Al Khor and Al Thakira, as an example, has been themed for eco-tourism due to its unique biodiversity and beautiful natural landscapes.
“Many foreign tourists normally plan ahead so we expect to see more people coming to Qatar through the visa-free entry in the coming weeks or months,” Hijji said.
Qatar Inbound Tours general manager Siraj Salah echoed Hijji’s view saying that the new visa facilitation measures have started attracting many foreign visitors from various parts of the world.
“Comparing to last year in the same period, we have many visitors from transit passengers. The free transit visa is helping a lot to bring in more tourists,” he noted. “It’s an excellent idea of QTA.”
Apart from the city tour, Siraj said their desert safari and north of Qatar bookings, particularly the visit to Al Zubarah Fort, has substantially increased this season.
“The North of Qatar package is becoming a popular tour for westerners, they really want to Qatar’s world heritage site,” he pointed out.
Visits to Souq Waqif, Museum of Islamic Art, the Pearl-Qatar and Katara – the Cultural Village and traditional dhow cruises are among the most popular activities for many foreign tourists, according to Siraj.
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