(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Qatar during 2013 welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors from around the world, compared to 1.2 million in the corresponding period last year. Regional visitors increased by 14.4%, with the greatest volumes from Saudi Arabia followed by UAE, with Kuwait continuing its high growth rate at over 35% compared to the last quarter of 2012.
International arrivals increased by 9%, with an increase in business arrivals from Asia at 14%. Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) released full year figures today showing the tourism industry in Qatar continued its upward trajectory in 2013, benefitting from new investment and promotion.
Key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth from the previous year. Based on the performance in 2013, the sector is on track to reach growth targets set out in the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy, both in terms of contribution to the economy and in overall visits.
The past year's data incorporates a wider set of statistics, adding to the quality of the information which is aiding in the planning, development and promotion of this sector of Qatar's economy. The largest source of tourists remains the GCC region with 1,090,239 visitors; followed by Asia (152,476 visitors), Europe (35,861 visitors), Non-GCC Arab countries (34,093 visitors), and Africa (4,045 visitors), arriving on either business or tourist visas. Commenting on the results, Chairman of QTA Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi said: " There is no doubt that Qatar has made great strides in promoting its tourism sector and in attracting a greater number of visitors to the country.
Tourism remains a significant economic driver for Qatar". "There is, of course, much to accomplish toward our goal of 7 million visitors by 2030. While the 2013 figures are impressive, we have to look beyond numbers and continue the shift towards quality, sustainable tourism. We are achieving these results through expanded public-private and public-public partnerships that are driving sector growth via new opportunities. QTA is committed through the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 to continue the development of Qatar's tourism sector, while allowing the country and Qataris to reap the benefit of a rich and diversified tourism sector," added Al Mohannadi.
The average hotel occupancy rate rose from 60% to 65%, this despite additional rooms added to the market. This corresponds to an overall increase of QR 411.13 million in revenues (13%) in 4 and 5-star hotels. These performance improvements bring 4 and 5-star hotel annual earnings to QR 3.58 billion. Four and 5-star hotels make up 11,717 of Qatar's 13,551 rooms. A recovering global economy and an influx of companies supporting Qatar's infrastructure development drove the tourism sector forward in 2013.
A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, and increased regional and international promotion during 2013 also pushed growth in the leisure sector. Activities in this sector include the seasonal festivals, international performances and family entertainment, international and regional exhibitions and conferences, as well as world-class sporting events held in Qatar