The off-peak year, Part II
Caught in the midst of infrastructure overdrive and global slowdown, the region’s tourism sector will be forced to find new revenue streams to survive the lean times, Part II.
August 11, 2009 7:58 by Ehtesham Shahid
Caroline Bremner, of Euromonitor International, says investing in Doha’s tourism offers is a good start. “These steps are critical to building its credentials as a leisure destination and will help underpin 10 percent arrivals growth per year, so that the country welcomes 1.7 million visitors by 2013,” she says. Tourist arrivals are indeed important, not only for the hotel sector, but also the broader service and retail sector.
Besides those blips on the tourist radar, Doha seems to have chosen to take the retail route to attracting tourists. A Jones Lang LaSalle report says about 500,000 square meters of retail space is expected to come online by 2011, which will double the retail stock within the city. That is not necessarily good news under the circumstances confirmed by the report itself. “Faced with this increased supply and declining global tourism, rentals in the Doha retail market are expected to decline in the short term,” the report reads. Although the level of leisure travel for sporting and other events is likely to increase in Doha, the business and convention sector will remain the major driving force of Qatar’s tourism mix.
Abu Dhabi has chosen to focus on family and cultural tourism, which observers say should hold the emirate in good stead. But, since it doesn’t overly rely on tourism, little sleep is lost.
Places like Oman are happy holding on to their ground as regional leisure destinations, and wouldn’t want to experiment at this time. However, construction activity isn’t drastically slowing down across the region.
According to Proleads research, Gulf countries have more than $140 billion worth of hotel projects under construction and 19 percent of the projects are being suspended or canceled as the sector faces a global slowdown. Of 893 hotel projects surveyed in the Gulf, 5 percent had been canceled, 14 percent put on hold, and 42 percent were underway.