Aug 10 2014
Holidaymakers taking advantage of the season have helped increase outbound flights from Doha by 30%, a Qatar-based travel agency told Gulf Times.
Tourists flying out of Doha, comprised mostly of Qataris and expatriates, prefer European destinations such as London, Paris, and Turkey, said Tareq Abdullatif Taha, chief executive officer of Regency Travel Tours.
“Europe will always be our number one destination,” Taha emphasised, adding that London tops the list of favoured tourist destinations for Qataris followed by Paris and Turkey.
But while current airfares remain exorbitant, peak season rates have not discouraged tourists from travelling out of the country during the holidays.
Taha added that other European destinations that also take a big share of the outbound flights from Doha include Munich, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Austria, Vienna, Brussels, and Rome.
But according to Taha, “the best way” for tourists to get value for money during their travels is to plan and book their flights or rooms early.
“Holidaymakers should plan early and book their flights and hotel reservations before the peak season to get more value for money during their vacations. The earlier you book, the better deals you get,” Taha stressed.
This was echoed by a booking agent of another travel agency located at Al Gharafa, who said travellers can save up to 40% on airfares alone from early bookings.
The agent, who requested not to be named, added that travellers can increase their savings by making the most of promo fares and other discounted rates offered by travel agencies.
When asked why airfares differ from one travel agency to another, she said the rates depend on promo fares offered by airlines or if a travel agency was able to secure seats from an airline at discounted prices.
Taha, on the other hand, said airfares also vary due to the fluctuation of prices in petroleum products, human resources, and other commodities, among others.
Regency Travel Tours head of Leisure and MICE Farooq Siddiqui said late bookings may cost more than 50%.
“An early booking to Turkey, for example, can get tourists airfare rates as low QR2,500 compared to current rates of around QR6,500 to QR7,000 for the economy class,” he explained.
But Taha said travellers need not go out of the country or the Gulf region for the holidays. He said countries like Dubai and Oman as well as Makkah in Saudi Arabia are among the top tourist destinations for Qataris and expatriates in the Mena region.
This year, the Qatar Tourism Authority’s (QTA) staging of family-oriented events at the Qatar Summer Festival has boosted domestic tourism in Doha, Taha said.
“We are getting tourists coming from neighbouring GCC countries, which is why I believe that Doha is putting itself on top of the tourism map of the region,” Taha emphasised.
Aside from Europe, Taha also said the US and Asia are favourite tourism destinations for Qataris. He said the US is attractive to Qatari families, who would prefer travelling from one State to another by road or enjoy the amenities of Disneyland and Universal Studios.
In Asia, Taha said the top destinations are Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
“Surprisingly, the Philippines is also becoming a strong destination for Qataris mainly because of the hospitality of its people and of course, the eco-tourism sites, white sand beaches, as well as its shopping malls,” Taha revealed.
© Gulf Times 2014
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Outbound flights from Doha register 30% increase