Travellers from Qatar are exploring new destinations worldwide to spend summer and Eid holiday season.
There has been a shift in preferences among citizens and expatriates depending on the demand for air tickets and visa availability to various destinations, according to travel industry sources.
Turkey is one of the newly-preferred and popular destinations among both citizens and expatriates.
Countries such as Australia, the US, Canada and Maldives have become favourite destinations for citizens as they tend to diversify their trips, with introduction of several new flights to different cities. Citizens also choose Scandinavian countries and Sweden is one of the popular places, say industry sources.
However, European cities such as London, Paris and Madrid traditionally remain the favourite holiday destinations of most Qataris. Some of them also go to Asian destinations like Bangkok, Singapore and Malaysia.
“We have seen a change in destinations people choose to travel for holiday. Europe remains the most preferred destination for Qataris.
However, there is an increase in the number of citizens choosing other countries, as they tend to explore new destinations and because new flights are introduced to some destinations. For example like in the US, passengers choose different cities and states rather than going to the main places,” a travel adviser told The Peninsula. He said that South East Asian destinations like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have been traditionally popular among expatriates.
However, recently, Eastern European countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia and Azerbaijan are fast gaining popularity, mainly due to less cost and easy visa processing.
According to travel industry sources, a three-day visit to Georgia including air fare would cost around QR 3500 and even less to Azerbaijan at around QR 2500.
Georgia has established visa-free regime for Qatar as well as for residents. An entry stamp upon arrival is enough to enter the country. “A travel package to Georgia excluding airfare would start from QR2000 and the airfare would be an additional of QR1500 during the summer. The prices are similar to other East European countries as well. But it could be cheaper than traveling to their home countries during summer,” said a travel consultant.
Separately, air fares from Doha to various destinations abroad have shot up as families travel for the summer school holidays and Eid. The summer vacation will end by the last week of August.
According to sources, flights to European cities including London and the Indian cities of Chennai, Mumbai and Kozhikode and other destinations like Colombo would cost 75 percent to 100 percent more during the travel season compared to the off-peak fares.
“However flight fare varies depending on the destination, airline, date of travel and date of booking. Therefore most passengers book their tickets in advance to avoid high rates,” said a travel consultant.