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The country’s tourism and retail sectors have remained robust despite the blockade on Qatar, attracting more residents and visitors to visit places and shop more often at various malls and other outlets, a senior Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) official has said.

QTA launched the second edition of Shop Qatar on January 7, dubbed as the biggest shopping festival in the country, to provide a diverse range of month-long entertainment and retail offerings.

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing yesterday, QTA's festivals and tourism events director Mashal Shahbik said the first three weeks of Shop Qatar 2018 witnessed a large number of families and individuals thronging festival locations.

“People continue to shop and they enjoy shopping in Doha - a good city to come to,” she stressed, adding that regional and international visitors could be seen roaming around the malls and other destinations across Qatar.

As residents have become aware of the value of QTA- or non-QTA-organised events and festivals, Shahbik said everyone in Doha now acts as an ambassador promoting the destination.

She cited the increasing number of tourists from the cruise industry who visit popular and heritage places such as Souq Waqif, Katara – the Cultural Village and the Museum of Islamic Art.

QTA is expected to provide the latest figures on tourist arrivals from other countries and its target markets soon, she said.

“We are thankful for the blockade that happened because now people feel that they are responsible for spreading (the news) on how safe and beautiful the destination is,” she pointed out.

With the free-visa entry facility to citizens of 80 countries, free transit visa and other visa facilitation measures in Qatar, Shahbik said they would continue to focus on attracting more foreign visitors.

QTA will also continue to organise themed events and bring celebrities from different countries to Doha, with the aim of attracting more tourists from other regions globally to visit the country.

Shahbik said the staging of Shop Qatar’s Arabian, Bollywood and International themes not only helped produce a good event but also gave QTA an opportunity to market and promote the destination.

“What we are trying to do is not only having events in Qatar but having the legacy elsewhere in the markets that we want to target,” she said.

“This is something that we will keep doing in every festival, we will be focusing on how the activities related to the festival can be seen clearly, we don’t want to copy activities in every festival,” Shahbik added. “We want each event to have its own identity.”

QTA focused more on the fashion industry in this edition of Shop Qatar, bringing some of the renowned fashion designers and celebrities to Doha.