Qatar is one of the fastest growing destinations in the world with tourism arrivals averaging a 14% annual growth between 2009-2014. In 2015, this Arabian Gulf country has recorded a 10% increase in tourists compared to 2014, and is targeted to hit a milestone of at least three million visitors by year-end 2015. Additionally, the Qatar Tourism Authority projects that the tourism sector's total contribution to the country's total economy will reach 5.1% by 2030.
In the area of hotels, Qatar had 15 new openings in 2015, bringing the total number to 119, including 97 hotels and 22 hotel apartments. The latest year-to-date figures (from January to August) show average occupancy rates holding steady at 71% from the same period last year, despite the 32% increase in the number of hotel rooms.
One of the most luxurious hotel openings in 2015 is the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara (www.anantara.com). Accessible by a luxury yacht ferry, the island feels a world away but is only 20 minutes from the heart of Qatar's vibrant capital city of Doha. This 141-room property offers Arabian luxury with pool villas and over-water villas. A private beach, lagoon pool and wellness center round out the entire luxury experience at this resort overlooking Doha's majestic and unique skyline.
In 2016, one of the newest openings will be the Westin Doha Hotel and Spa (www.starwoodhotels.com) with 365 guest rooms. Located in the residential neighborhood of Bin Mahmoud, the hotel will be convenient to restaurants and shopping, and a quick taxi ride away to the world class museums Qatar is known for.
The very popular Pearl-Qatar, with its marinas, villas and luxury shopping, is a manmade island off the West Bay coast and continues to be a favorite spot while visiting Doha. Its waterfront promenades are lined with cafes, including a favorite restaurant imported from Rome, Antica Pesa, located in the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel (www.kempinski.com). The Pearl has garnered the nickname the "Arabian Riviera" and a must visit when visiting Qatar.
In conclusion, Qatar has become a major player in the tourism sector within the Gulf region, bringing together old world hospitality with cosmopolitan and sophisticated accommodations, shopping and dining.