Qatar’s hotels suffer in Eid holiday due to Arab boycott

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A boycott imposed by four Arab nations that accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism is squeezing the tourism sector and Doha’s hotels have seen steep falls in their occupancy which would normally be full during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

A Reuters survey of five major hotels found average occupancy was around 57 percent at the start of the Eid festival on Sunday which marks the end of the Ramadan fasting month when friends and families eat and pray together and take holidays.

“We’re usually packed with Saudis and Bahrainis but not this year,” a staff member at a five-star hotel said.

Aviation analyst Will Horton estimated Hamad International Airport, one of the Middle East’s busiest, would handle 76 percent as many flights in early July compared with the same period last year, a loss of about 27,000 passengers a day.

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The airport did not respond to a Reuters request for data on the impact of sanctions.

Visitors from the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council usually account for almost half of all visitors to Qatar. So a decision by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5 hit traffic hard.

“Doha in early July, assuming the restrictions remain, will have less capacity than a year ago - a confronting figure for a region where every month sets year-on-year records,” said Horton, senior analyst at Australia’s CAPA Center for Aviation.

There is no breakthrough in sight for the crisis in which the four Arab nations issued an ultimatum to Doha to close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and pay reparations.

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