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QATAR’S TOURISM SECTOR is expected to sustain its six per cent annual revenue growth rate in 2010, and will particularly continue to focus on inbound travel being generated by the rapidly expanding local meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment. The more than 180 major events scheduled in Qatar this year are expected to further increase demand for hotel rooms, mirroring the solid 25 per cent increase in room space recorded in 2009.
Cristal Hotels and Resorts, one of the fastest-growing hotel chains in Abu Dhabi, has announced that it plans to open new hotels in Qatar to capitalize on the country’s strong tourism and hospitality markets. The move will form part of a broader and aggressive expansion across the Middle East. Cristal recently announced that it achieved one of the highest month-to-date occupancy rates among Abu Dhabi’s 4-star and 5-star hotels, scoring 84 per cent average occupancy in January 2010. It has been able to emerge as one of Abu Dhabi’s top hospitality companies less than a year after its opening in July of 2009.
“Abu Dhabi and Qatar have been able to grow their hospitality and tourism industries despite the downturn. They also both rely heavily on MICE visits to generate a significant portion of local travel and tourism revenue. Their similarities will enable us to apply most of the growth strategies we adopted in Abu Dhabi and gain the same measures of success within Qatar’s thriving travel and hotel markets,” said Peter Blackburn, General Manager, Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi.
Upcoming developments that will further solidify Qatar’s business travel niche are the opening of the country’s new international airport; the launching of the Doha Convention Centre and Towers in 2012; and the completion of the metro within five years. Aside from its MICE appeal, Qatar also offers excellent leisure and lifestyle destinations. Some attractions include Souq Waqif, a downtown Doha souk rebuilt to look like its ancient predecessors; the nearby Museum of Islamic Art; and the 15-km Khor al Adaid (‘Inland Sea’) lake near the southern coast. Cristal Hotels and Resorts was able to achieve an average Abu Dhabi occupancy level of 78 per cent from August 31 to December 31, 2009, outperforming other 5-star hotels despite being only a few months into operation. Its 4-star Abu Dhabi Hotel offers 192 rooms and suites equipped with high-speed internet, an IDD interactive telephone with voice mail; multi-purpose meeting and conference rooms and audio visual equipment; and other premium facilities such as an exclusive spa, an in-door pool and a beauty salon.