Souq Waqif expect boost this winter with European tourists

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Restaurants and retailers at Souq Waqif expect a further boost to their sales this winter with the possible arrival of many European tourists, it is learnt.

While these establishments receive a substantial number of customers, especially during the peak season, an employee of an Italian restaurant told Gulf Times that they anticipate the arrival of thousands of cruise passengers in the coming months.

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) had recently announced that some 32 cruise ships carrying more than 50,000 passengers would dock at Doha ports during the 2016-2017 season.

Eligible for transit visas, QTA has vowed to give cruise passengers a “seamless tourism experience” in Qatar and for them to enjoy their onshore excursions.

“We normally receive a lot of customers from Europe and many of them are expatriates living in Doha,” the employee said. “We hope to attract more with this announcement from QTA.”

This was echoed by an employee of a Lebanese restaurant, saying Qatar is becoming a popular destination for Europeans who want to try some of the Arabic delicacies and stay “in a place less cold than home”.

Like other restaurants, she said their customers are usually Qataris, citizens of Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries, European and American expatriates, as well as some trourists from different parts of the world.

Souq Waqif, one of Qatar’s popular tourist destinations, hosts several restaurants that cater to a wide range of visitors. These include Iraqi, Lebanese, Iranian, Syrian, Moroccan, Indian, Pakistani, Italian and Argentinian restaurants as well as a number of coffee shops, among others.

The employee noted that they receive many visitors from Saudi Arabia not only in the winter but also during Ramadan and the Eid holidays.

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She added that they usually come in groups, mostly families and friends, and stay for a certain period of time in hotels in Doha.

It is learnt that the influx of Saudi visitors has also helped retailers and restaurants at Souq Waqif cope with the off-peak season, particularly the summer.

Some soon-to-open restaurants at Souq Waqif also see this cruise season as the right time to welcome visitors, a time when QTA is extensively promoting the country as a tourist destination.

A number of retailers aired a similar observation, saying they get a large number of customers both from Saudi Arabia and Europe.

An employee of a shop, which sells various Arabic clothes, ghutra, other accessories and souvenirs, told Gulf Times that he hopes to sell more items this winter as he awaits more tourists, including those from other Middle East countries. (Gulftimes)

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