DOHA, Jun 16: • Road closures, traffic jams and the soaring temperature seem to have prompted more nationals and expatriates to depart the country for the summer.
Travel industry sources say that there has been a sizeable increase in the number of people leaving this peak season, compared to last year.
This time, the rush for tickets to all destinations started early, mainly because the school holidays have been advanced in view of the forthcoming Asian Games.
All the private and public schools have decided to either advance or cut short their summer holidays to adjust the working days they are supposed to lose during the Games.
Sources from a leading travel agency told The Peninsula yesterday that the company has witnessed an increase of about 20 per cent in the demand for airline bookings since the start of this summer.
The highest demand is for Asian destinations, especially in India and Sri Lanka and Middle East destinations like Cairo and Beirut. Beirut is the most-preferred destination for tourists, while the rush to Cairo has been caused by an increase in the number of Egyptian expatriates going on vacation. The demand for travel to Indian destinations is also higher this time, compared to previous years, the sources said.
While more nationals opt to spend their holidays outside the country, a bigger number of expatriates have chosen to fly home this time, provided they can afford to buy an air ticket.
The mood is evident from the words of a Qatari national, Mohammed Al Dosari, who has been busy preparing for his holidays, "I have to leave the country this time. Traffic jams, high temperature and hardly any avenue for entertainment," he said tersely.
Saif Al Qahtani, another Qatari, said he had also chosen to spend the holidays out of the country, despite the high costs involved. "This time I started the preparations early since there is nothing to tempt me to stay here. I have decided to leave though I will miss my family and friends," he said.
Khalil Al Khansouri, an Arab expatriate aired similar sentiments. "The summer vacation is long-awaited by children as well as elders. This time the reasons to go on vacation are more, mainly the early examinations and closures of roads," he said.
Hypermarkets as well as traditional souqs have also been witnessing a rush for shopping this summer. Major shopping outlets report an increase in sales, but many vacation shoppers are upset with the high prices.
"Even clothes and shoes are affected by the price hike. We used to buy them as gifts. But this time, we are forced to limit the purchases to some necessary items," said Noor Ismail, an Arab expatriate.
Mustafa Abdul Khaliq said: "Unlike the past, I am not buying costly gifts this time, because of the high prices. I want to save some money for home.