With its sights set on an ambitious tourism future, both within the region and internationally, Qatar is undoubtedly taking all the right steps. Natalie Hami reports.
Coupled with an insatiable desire to provide quality, diverse experiences to its visitors year by year, whilst also maintaining an unrivalled standard in a number of its current fortes in the tourism industry, Qatar continues to reach ever higher, awing visitors regionally and beyond.
As Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) sets out its ambitious and precise plans for the future, the destination’s dedicated tourism stakeholders join QTA’s side to promote Qatar, both for its traditional strengths such as the impressive MICE sector, and its expertise in catering to the sports segment, as well as the more recent additions to its tourism product such as culture and dining.
Abounding confidence in the destination’s tourism product was perfectly expressed by CEO and board member, Katara Hospitality, Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla who told TTG: “Our country is quickly becoming a leading global tourist destination. More and more tourists visit Qatar every year and this trend is only going to grow over the coming years. The government has a target of attracting seven million visitors annually by 2030 and a total of 124 hotel establishments are currently under construction to meet this demand, bringing an additional 21,402 rooms, suites and units when completed.”
As the precise and energetic forward motion of Qatar’s tourism industry continues, TTG sought to discover its plans for the new year, exclusively speaking to key stakeholders to determine which direction it plans to steer it.
Chief marketing and promotions officer, QTA, Rashed AlQurese enthused to TTG: “We are confident that there will be plenty of ongoing exciting news about Qatar’s tourism sector during the course of the coming year. With the introduction of important marketing assets, we plan to ensure that Qatar will provide a clear, focused and consistent profile worldwide.”
With QTA’s core message remaining the same for all markets, to highlight the sights and attractions, high quality of the hotels, new products and authentic cultural experiences, one of its key focal points is to create a global presence through its ever increasing number of overseas offices.
According to AlQurese, QTA has three offices in Europe (in the UK, France and Germany); two in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Riyadh) covering the GCC and one in South East Asia responsible for Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. He added: “We have plans to expand our global office presence in 2015 and new destinations will include the US, Turkey and Italy.”
In these markets, QTA’s approach is as follows: “In each of these markets, we pursue a two-pronged strategy focused on, firstly, the travel industry such as – tour operators, travel agents and hospitality providers, and secondly consumers, with the emphasis on promoting positive destination awareness via a variety of communication channels.”
And as the main driving force behind the destination’s tourism product leads the way, the destination’s keen stakeholders take hold of the baton to play their own equally significant role in promoting the destination and their property.
General manager, Adagio Premium Aparthotel West Bay Doha, Jules-Henri Edouard exclusively told TTG: “As an international group, Accor is already present in the various countries where the Qatar Tourism Authority has decided to open overseas offices, hotels and regional sales offices.”
He added: “We intend to use our global network and expertise, and take advantage of our own reservation system implemented worldwide (Travel Accor Reservation System, or TARS) to help QTA raise Qatar’s profile on an international scale.”
Meanwhile other properties are following suit by exploring markets that are already on the radar for the destination. PR and marketing communications manager, Doha Marriott Hotel, Katie Roberts explained to TTGthat the property will be looking to tap into the Asian market, especially the Chinese market, as well as continue growing the US and European markets.
Director of marketing, Four Seasons Hotel Doha, Julian Crane noted to TTG: “There is an anticipation that Asia will be a growing market in the future in addition to the other emerging markets such as South America.”
Despite Qatar’s plans to appeal to an incredibly broad range of visitors, it cannot be denied that one of its main strengths lies in its MICE segment, which indeed continues to develop and garner the envy of the region.
AlQurese said: “Qatar’s ongoing investment in expanding and improving our MICE facilities and the priority we are devoting to developing this sector are other factors helping to drive growth.”
He further highlighted that Qatar’s attractions as a place for doing business are well known. “As a major oil and gas producer and emerging global economic powerhouse, our country not only has the world’s highest per capita income but also one of its fastest developing economies. On top of this, we have a massive programme of infrastructure investment underway, totalling more than $200 billion in the period leading up to 2030.”
Meanwhile, director of sales and marketing, Grand Regal Hotel, Shamsa Ali elaborated on how the property is capitalising on this fruitful segment. “MICE tourism has become an increasingly important demand generator for Qatar and hotels are benefiting directly from this rapidly growing sector.”
Ali noted that in order to maintain a competitive edge there are renovations in store for the hotel. Roberts also addressed the magnitude of the MICE sector, commenting that the hotel collaborates with QTA to promote Doha for MICE business as it is equipped with a ballroom and F&B to cater to it.
And while some properties are honing in on the MICE sector, a number are also playing to their strengths by targeting the popular sports segment, such as The Torch Doha.
Hotel manager, The Torch Doha, Sherif Sabry commented to TTG: “Sports tourism is witnessing a tremendous growth in Qatar. Aspire Zone is able to service the highest sporting demands, while The Torch Doha can host guests attending major sports events, training and pre-competition camps to conferences and research workshops, as well as those who come to Qatar for sport treatment services, sports medicine, research and education.”
In a bid to further develop and grow this segment, Sabry explained that the hotel continues to work closely with QTA, Aspire Zone Foundation, Qatar Olympic Committee and other sports governing bodies, such as Qatar Swimming Federation and Qatar Athletics Federation among others.
The significance of this lucrative market and its effect on the hospitality industry was also remarked on by marketing and communications manager, Mövenpick Hotel West Bay, Doha, Sara Assad who noted exclusively to TTG: “Qatar is an avid supporter of world sports and continues to encourage and develop its sports programmes, so we also have a large sports segment at our hotel.”
As the cogs of Qatar’s tourism industry machinery continue to turn, the destination garners speed with its unstoppable product.