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Saudi-led siege harming Qatar’s tourism

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Indications are growing that a Saudi-led blockade against Qatar is already showing its impacts on the country’s tourism and aviation industries.

Indications are growing  that a Saudi-led blockade against Qatar is already showing its impacts on the country’s tourism industry. 

A Reuters survey showed that the hotels in Doha which would normally be full in the Eid Al Fitr holiday, have seen steep falls in their occupancy rates.

The survey showed that the average occupancy was around 57 per cent at the start of the Eid festival on Sunday.  

The aviation industry would also be a specific sector to suffer from the blockade. Estimates, as reported by Reuters, showed that Doha’s Hamad International Airport, one of the Middle East’s busiest, would handle 76 percent as many flights in early July compared with the same period last year, a loss of about 27,000 passengers a day.

Hundreds of weekly flights to and from Qatar have already been cancelled because of the dispute, Reuters added.  Hamad airport would lose fees paid by airlines and passengers, as well terminal revenue from duty free shops and restaurants. 

Air links suspended by the four Arab states represented around 25 percent of flights by state-owned Qatar Airways, one of the region’s big three carriers.

Elsewhere in the tourist sector, hotels, restaurants and other facilities have had to find new sources of services and goods, in some cases, at higher cost, due to the boycott, Reuters quoted market experts as saying. 

Developing business and leisure tourism is part of Qatar’s drive to develop its economy away from reliance on oil and gas revenue. Doha aims to raise the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP to 5.2 percent by 2030 from around 4.1 percent now, while raising the number of people employed by nearly 70 per cent to 127,900, Reuters added.

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