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Sun 29 Mar 2015 07:04 PM

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Some Qatar hotels face legal threat over rate hikes

Qatar Tourism Authority warns hotels after reports of 400-1,200% increases in room rates

Some Qatar hotels face legal threat over rate hikes

Several hotels in Qatar have reportedly been threatened with legal action for excessive hikes in room rates earlier this month.

The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has threatened to take legal action over room rates that rose by 400-1,200 percent to coincide with an influx of visitors from Saudi Arabia, one of Qatar’s largest source of tourists, Doha News reported.

It quoted a translated statement originally published by the QTA in Arabic on Twitter which said: “The exaggerated increase in the prices” created “a negative image about the tourism industry in the state and the national economy, especially since it coincides with the season for receiving tourists and visitors from the Gulf countries.

"These irresponsible actions on behalf of some hotels and hotel apartments could waste the efforts exerted by the partners and employees of the tourism sector and QTA to promote Qatar as a vacation hub.”

Prices of more than QR6,000 ($1,648) a night were being charged for rooms, according to local media.

The QTA said it has sent a warning to several hotels, instructing them to reduce their rates. It also has set up a team to investigate “the continuance of the violation by any hotel", Doha News said, adding that legal action would be taken against hotels that continue to increase their prices without permission.

Qatar saw 2.8 million visitors enter the country in 2014, an 8.2 percent increase in numbers over the previous year, generating 61,000 jobs in the tourism sector and an economic injection of $7.6 billion, equal to 8.3 percent of Qatar's non-extraction GDP, according to IFP Info.

Forty percent of tourists came from other GCC countries, 15 percent from European countries and 28 percent from Asia and Oceania, according to figures released by QTA.

Hotel occupancy rates increased to an average of 73 percent in 2014, with five-star properties enjoying the lion's share of visitors, and hoteliers in 2015 are expecting those numbers to rise further.

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