Stakeholders brood over Qatar tourism challenges

Stakeholders brood over Qatar tourism challenges

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Stakeholders brood over Qatar tourism challenges

DOHA — Representatives of the health, education, transport, security, sports, aviation, culture, finance and tourism sectors gathered this week at a forum organized by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) to explore the opportunities and challenges facing the growth of tourism in Qatar.

Over 70 stakeholders took part in plenary and group discussions about global tourism trends and how Qatar can develop its assets to capitalize on them. They identified Qatar’s unique selling points across several tourism sub-sectors including, culture and heritage, business events (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), sports, and shopping. Participants explored how the assets in each area can be enhanced and activated to attract specific segments of travellers. Attendees also discussed how to cater to various target audiences, such as millennials, over-60 travellers, international business travellers, GCC and Arab families and travellers transiting through Doha (stopover).

The forum took place as part of the process to develop the next chapter of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy (QNTSS), which is due to be launched in September 2017. The forum sought to engage representatives of the country’s major sectors in defining a unified vision for Qatar’s tourism sector and the experiences it will offer visitors. It will be followed by a second forum in which stakeholders will contribute to the development of various initiatives and action plans, to be implemented collectively over the next five years.

In addition, QTA will be inviting members of the public to participate in an online survey to give their thoughts on the strengths of the Qatar tourism experience and how they, or people who have visited them, think it can be improved.

“We are grateful to the input and guidance we have received from stakeholders and sector leaders throughout this process, both in one-on-one meetings and during this forum,” said Nasser Al Maslamani, Planning and Quality Director at QTA. “Since the launch of QNTSS in 2014, Qatar’s tourism industry has seen remarkable growth, and that expansion has brought with it new stakeholders. That is why it is necessary for all of us to come together, to take stock of how far we have come, and to identify and deliver the required policies, products and services that will enable the tourism industry to reach its full potential.”

Qatar’s leadership has recently taken numerous steps to stimulate the private sector’s involvement in developing key sectors of the economy, and has identified tourism as a priority sector in the country’s national development plan 2017-2022. Earlier this year, Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, issued a directive for QTA to guide a collaborative review of QNTSS by public and private sector stakeholders.

“This process will ensure that the tourism industry reflects changing economic dynamics, and is on the right track to fulfill its role in realizing Qatar National Vision 2030, while accurately reflecting the needs of Qatar and its people,” added Al Maslamani.

QNTSS was launched in 2014 charting a pathway of development through 2030. Since then, Qatar has achieved 6% average annual growth in arrivals between 2012-2016, reaching close to 3 million visitors in 2016. The tourism sector’s total contribution to the total GDP has also grown to 4.3%, according to the latest draft of the Tourism Satellite Account.

Major initiatives have been implemented to facilitate further growth, including the introduction of a free 96-hour transit visa and a new online tourist visa system, due to launch later this year. In addition, five new tourism projects have opened to private sector investors, and a tourism business incubator (QBIC Tourism) has been established to engage young entrepreneurs in developing tourism products and services. — SG

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