Qatar’s tourism sector is a booming market. Area vice president, Rotana Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, Joseph Coubat talks to Chloe Panayides about the country’s potential, and what Rotana can bring to this mix.
TTG: What new developments can you report? What were your motivations for pursuing these developments?
In August 2010 we announced the opening of the five-star Oryx Rotana Doha, and we are now preparing for the opening of City Centre Rotana during the third quarter of 2012.
Rotana’s strategic aim is to have a property located in every key city in the Middle East and Africa, and this goal is being steadily achieved through careful long-term planning, timely action and knowledge of the market and our entry to Qatar is part of our strategic aim.
Oryx Rotana is a modern, dazzling and unique high-tech hotel featuring a stunning sky lit atrium. The property is strategically located in the business district, with easy access to Doha International Airport and close to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), designed by Chinese American architect I. M. Pei, one of the most celebrated architects in the world today.
The property caters largely to business travellers and features 400 luxurious and spacious rooms and suites, four exquisite dining venues, nine meeting rooms including two large function rooms and Bodylines Leisure & Fitness Club offering superb facilities including a 24-hour fully equipped gymnasium, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi.
As for the five-star City Centre Rotana, the property will be part of the City Centre Doha shopping complex, which is located in the West Bay area, near the business district, the Diplomatic area, the new Exhibition Centre and minutes away from the Doha Golf Club and the airport. We also have the Pearl Island, a high-end residential city and the emergence of Lusail City (residential and business).
Furthermore, we are in negotiations for new properties and will update you once they are signed.
TTG: Which of Qatar tourism authority's five pillars of tourism (Meetings; Culture; Education; Sport; and Leisure) will you personally be focusing on most in 2012, and why?
Rotana can pursue on all pillars over the next five years with the huge investment $17 billion on tourism infrastructure which is making Qatar even more attractive to visitors.
Currently, 95 per cent of travellers to Qatar come on a business visit or to attend an international conference or one of the various exhibitions held in the country. With the opening of our second property City Centre Rotana along with the great success of Oryx Rotana awarded ‘Qatar’s Leading Business Hotel’ at the World Travel Awards 2011, our focus will be on the Corporate and MICE markets in 2012, however, the leisure market will not be neglected.
TTG: What do you feel sets Qatar apart as a unique destination in the MENA region?
Qatar has already proven itself as an emerging destination in the area and all indications show that it will enhance its positioning further. This will attract additional business to the country and will attract the curiosity and interest of the main corporate and leisure markets, which will only be to our benefit.
Qatar is world renowned for both tradition of independence and progressive orientation, and it has a key location between Europe, Africa and Asia. The country has managed to create a seal that represents its role in bringing worlds together: business combined with leisure, authenticity joined with advancing technology, globalisation meeting with independence.
Alongside with all what I mentioned, Qatar has the world's largest per capita production and proven reserves of both oil
and natural gas. The main drivers for this rapid growth are attributed to ongoing increases in production and exports of liquefied natural gas, oil, petrochemicals and related industries. Qatar has the second-highest human development in the Arab World after the UAE.
As a nation, Qataris are proud of their history, culture, warmth and hospitality; but they are also proud of the way in which they have embraced modern technology and developed their economy as one of the fastest growing in the world.
TTG: What new tourism sites have recently opened? Do you hope to collaborate with them to promote to guests, and how?
Qatar Tourism Authority is working on promoting Qatar as a quality tourism destination for leisure, business, education, and sport. The authority’s new strategy is to grow the tourism industry in Qatar by 20 per cent in the next five years, which is certainly very encouraging. This will be delivered through various investments including the construction of luxury hotels, resorts and other leisure facilities, totalling a 400 per cent increase in hotel capacity up to 29,000 luxury rooms by 2012. Qatar will invest even more in tourism sites, such as the landmark $3 billion Museum of Islamic Art.
This will benefit all sectors including the hospitality with the demand of rooms’ inventory and the development of new properties.
The initiatives related to the MICE sector are also immense, in addition to the country staging the Asian Cup football tournament and the 2022 FIFA football World Cup, which Qatar won.
The opening of New Doha International Airport, a state-of-the art and one of the most modern international airports in the world is expected to cater to (Phase 1) 25 million and (Phase 2) 50 million passengers.
More than 140 major projects are currently underway in Qatar as the country focuses its investments on its transportation infrastructure. Billions have been spent upgrading the extensive road networks connecting the country to the rest of the Middle East. In addition, the $25 billion, 2,200km Qatar National Rail Scheme will link to the six-state GCC Railway network, worth $30 billion, from 2017.
Rotana will continue joining forces and examining every opportunity with all channels to increase the business and maintain market share across all markets. The group has enhanced our market coverage through Rotana’s regional sales offices across the Middle East and International sales offices in the UK, Germany, India, China and Moscow. This is addition to our marketing campaigns, various packages, social media activities, International travel exhibitions and trade representation and of course, public relations.
TTG: Qatar is well recognised as one of the fastest growing economies: what long-term plans do you have in place or do you hope to develop to sustain the momentum of growth?
With all the developments, Rotana’s objective is to have one or more from each brand developed strategically in Qatar.
Rotana’s operational strength lies in its ability to achieve the highest levels of performance from the properties under its management – delivering sector-leading returns on investment to its owners.
We understand that sustained growth in cash flow and earnings is only created by continually improving operational efficiency without compromising on the quality offered. Rotana will strive to offer new levels of quality and service to our partners, our clients and, most of all, to the many thousands of patrons who enter the doors of a Rotana property.