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Qatar travel spending hits $3.59bn in first three months of 2023

Travel revenues in Doha rose 52% to 6.8 billion riyals in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

A surge in social, cultural, and other activities in Qatar during the first quarter of 2023 has pushed travel spending up by 28% year-on-year, according to the latest balance of payments data released by the Qatar Central Bank.

The data revealed that the spike in spending took the number to a whopping record 13.1 billion Qatari riyals ($3.59 billion).

The country’s capital saw a staggering 52% increase in travel revenues within the first three months of this year, amounting to QAR 6.8bn compared to the same period in 2022.

Meanwhile, spending on transportation during the first quarter fell 12.3% year-on-year to QAR 9.7bn, down from QAR 11bn.

The balance of payments data also revealed that Qatar, renowned for its substantial gas reserves, made direct investments abroad totalling QAR 3.4bn, marking a 29.6% increase from the first quarter of the previous year.

However, direct investments within the Gulf nation saw a significant decline in the first three months of this year, falling 83.9% to 717 million riyals compared to the 4.47bn million riyals recorded in the same period in 2022.

The country’s export value dipped by 7% to QAR 95.8bn in the first quarter, while import value amounted to QAR 25.5bn, down by 10.4% from the first three months of the previous year.

In the final quarter of 2022, coinciding with the World Cup, Qatar’s travel and transport sectors reported record revenues of QAR 32.4bn.

“The World Cup, to us, was a bonus on top of what we were already doing in the cultural realm,” Sheikha Reem Al-Thani, acting deputy CEO of exhibitions and marketing for Qatar Museums, told Arab News earlier this year.  

Sheikha Reem attributed much of the country’s booming tourism and cultural sector to the Qatar National Vision 2030 strategy, launched in July 2008.

“The World Cup definitely gave us a drive to move faster,” she said.

She further stressed the importance of nurturing the cultural and creative economy.

“However, for us, it has always been about maintaining and developing our cultural and creative economy, educating people and really making sure that what we’re doing is in a very thoughtful and homegrown way.”

Despite the departure of World Cup fans, a host of projects are in the pipelines with the aim of bolstering Qatar’s travel and tourism sector in the future.