DOHA — Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has begun the process of reviewing the tourism sector strategy in partnership with stakeholders and partners from the public and private sectors, QTA officials have announced.
The process involves an extensive series of one-on-one meetings with key policy and decision-makers and cross-sectoral stakeholder forums, the first of which is due to be held on May 15-16. Members of the public will also be invited to share their input through a series of surveys.
The announcement comes after Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani issued a directive for QTA to review the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy (QNTSS) 2030, in partnership with the private sector and relevant government entities.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s Chief Tourism Development Officer, said “with changes to the economic reality, both locally and internationally, Qatar’s leadership has taken new steps to stimulate the private sector’s involvement in developing key sectors of the economy. At the same time, the tourism industry in Qatar has grown and changed drastically from what it was in 2014. As we move ahead on the path of development, it is critical that we take all of these factors into account and make any changes necessary to our approach – as an organization and as a nation – to building the tourism industry.”
QTA is eying 27 September 2017, which coincides with World Tourism Day, as the launch date of the refreshed strategy. World Tourism Day is due to be hosted in Qatar, and will witness a series of events celebrating tourism’s economic, social and cultural role under the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development.’
“By September, we plan to complete a thorough and inclusive consultation and review process, to ensure that the tourism industry is on the right track to fulfil its role in the realization of Qatar National Vision 2030, reflecting the needs of Qatar and its people,” added Al Ibrahim.
QNTSS 2030 was launched in February 2014 with the aim of developing a sustainable tourism sector that celebrates Qatar’s cultural and natural gems, and helps diversify the country’s economy. The strategy charts a pathway of development that builds on Qatar’s assets in four key areas: Business Events, Culture and Heritage, Sports and Recreation, and Urban and Family Entertainment.
Since then, Qatar has welcomed over 9 million visitors, and tourism’s total impact on the economy has increased to 4.3% of the total GDP, and 8.8% of the non-oil GDP (according to the draft 2015 Tourism Satellite Account).
Great strides have been made in regulating the hospitality and broader tourism sectors, with the launch of a new Hotel Grading and Classification System in 2016, and the approval of draft executive regulations that govern the sector. An electronic licensing system that will further streamline the establishment of tourism businesses is due to be launched later this year.
New sub-sectors have emerged as significant contributors to the tourism industry, such as cruise tourism, and tourism events and festivals. On the cruise front, the number of port calls tripled during the recently-concluded season, bringing over 47,000 visitors to the country, with the number expected to reach 300,000 by the 2019/2020 season. The redevelopment of Doha Port is set to create a cruise hub and tourist landmark in the heart of the capital city.
Meanwhile, tourism events and festivals have been attracting growing numbers of visitors and generating increased tourism spending. In its third edition, the 2016 Qatar Summer Festival contributed an estimated QR630 million to the national economy, while the inaugural Shopping Festival (Shop Qatar) contributed an estimated QR1.06 billion this year.
These and other developments across the sector are reflected in Qatar’s regional rankings, with Qatar’s hospitality sector topping the GCC in Olery’s Guest Experience in the Middle East Report in 2016 and 2017.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, Qatar is the 2nd most competitive travel and tourism destination in the MENA region. It is also the only country in the Middle East to have achieved consistent growth in tourism arrivals over 2005-2015, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. — SG