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Tour operators anticipate drop in holiday travellers


DOHA • The rising costs of air travel and overseas stays coupled with a higher inflation rate at home may see a fall in the number of holiday-makers this summer, sources say.

There are not enough savings with middle-income people due to skyrocketing prices. This is true of both nationals and expatriates.

And despite the fact that the average income of citizens is higher than that of expatriates, many in the Qatari community are battling severe financial woes due to their lavish lifestyles and the huge losses they have suffered at the local bourse.

House rent is not the only major item of a family's expense which has gone up, say sources. Family expenditures on food and services have doubled over the past six months to a year.

Recently, airlines have raised their rates and bookings at hotels in a number of countries have become costlier too.

Not too long ago, Europe was a favourite destination for holidaying for middle-income Qataris but things changed after 9/11 with visa rules becoming stiff. European holidays have also became costlier.

According to those in the travel trade, Egypt, Malaysia and Thailand emerged as some of the preferred destinations in the aftermath of 9/11 not only for middle-income nationals but also for an increasing number of expatriate families who had the spending capacity.

But this summer things might change, tour operators say. "We are expecting a drop in the number of holiday-makers in the expatriate communities as well this season," said an operator.

"We are going to stay on in Doha during the summer months and will look for entertainment locally. We hope the Summer Wonders event takes place," said a Qatari who did not want to be identified.


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