Travel agencies across Doha are worried as the number of people looking to spend Eid Al Fitr vacations abroad has decreased by a staggering 35% compared to the numbers of last year. A leading travel agent expressing shock and disbelief over the falling number of registrations said, ‘the decrease in the number of overseas vacation bookings is unprecedented, the bookings have decreased by as much as 40%’ However, showing optimism the travel agent hoped that the bookings would register an increase in the coming days as Eid is still 8-10 days away.
The destinations that Qataris usually prefer to visit during vacations are European countries such as Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Italy as well as Austria, said a travel agent. Another opined Qataris tend to avoid places that are volatile and unstable. People from Qatar who visit Asia prefer going to Thailand and Malaysia as they have a lot of attractions and places to offer that go well with the likings of Qatari people.
Due to the pleasant weather conditions prevalent and also the availability of Halal food in Europe, about 80% of Qatari who go to vacation abroad prefer Europe while as 10% visit Asia and the rest of the 10% visit the neighbouring GCC countries. Medical tourists or people visiting abroad for the purposed of medical treatment also make a substantial percentage, however, the bookings from such people has been relatively on the lower side this year.
Another reason for lower number of bookings registered this year could also be due to the sudden increase in the number of online bookings, says another travel agent. According to him customers find it cheaper, faster and convenient to make online bookings by using their smart phones and paying by credit cards rather than visit or contact a travel agent for the same purpose. However, online bookings also have their fair share of disadvantages such as cancelling or rescheduling a booking is almost always a headache whereas the same can be done without any hassles if the book is made through a travel agent.