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For Qatari residents: Do you prefer a summer or winter World Cup 2022?

Qatar's construction sights

Written by  Author |   Wed, 13 November 2013 14:14

Tourism and hotel construction gained further momentum in Qatar after the country won the 2022 World Cup bid. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), tourism contributes $13 billion or 6.7% of Qatar's GDP. The WTTC expects tourism in Qatar to grow by 7.1% in 2013, with an annual average of 4% from 2013 to 2023.

However, more than a football destination towards 2022, Qatar is becoming a tourist attraction for its cultural itineraries and leisure venues with the Museum of Islamic Art, Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival, Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Souk Waqif and Doha's Heritage Village. The leisure tourism sector in Qatar has seen a 10% increase from international markets this year, aided by a diverse range of events and activities. This includes the first-ever Middle East performance of Disney on Ice, as well as the sold-out performances of the Broadway hit show STOMP at Qatar National Convention Centre.

Meanwhile, Qatar is fast becoming one of the world's leading places to enjoy sports both as a participant and as a spectator.Qatar has invested $2.8 billion in infrastructure over the last several years to support athletic competition.

Next to culture, ecotourism has become a driving force as various options are available across Qatar. Theme parks, amusement parks and various entertainment options in shopping malls are also attracting tourists from within the region each year.

Nevertheless, Qatar is looking at tapping into the lucrative MICE market with new initiatives to further stamp its hospitality credentials. Actually, meetings and exhibitions organized in Qatar have boosted business tourism, which has emerged as the primary business tourism driver for the country.

Furthermore, in 2014 Qatar will also see the inauguration of the new Hamad International Airport (HIA) (previously known as the New Doha International Airport (NDIA)) which when fully operational in 2022 will accommodate more than 50 million passengers a year. And with Qatar Airways now flying to 125 destinations around the world, Qatar is establishing itself as a key travel hub for travellers.

60,000 hotel rooms by 2022
Up to 2022, Qatar will spend more than $20 billion on developing hotels, parks and other entertainment venues necessary to support the country's growing hospitality industry. This will include building an average of 5000 new hotel rooms a year, boosting the number from 15,000 to 60,000. The aim is to attract as many of the world's top brands as possible.

Aware of the potential for oversupply in hotel rooms, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) which manages Qatar's burgeoning tourism industry, doesn't see the World Cup as the only landmark event. Infrastructure and profile boost associated with the World Cup is expected to help enhance Qatar's position as a host for sporting tournaments and a MICE destination.

Actually, the number of tourists visiting Qatar is increasing by 20% annually. This increase is attributed to the country's strong economy and the government's efforts to diversify it through encouraging and developing tourism as part of its economic development. This has resulted in new hotel investments especially in the luxury brands.

Recently, the total number of hotels under construction has increased to 121 from 110 at the end of 2012; with a total 20,955 rooms expected to be delivered. Last year, hotels in Qatar had a total capacity of 13,407 rooms. Also, according to a report by Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz), some of the big international hotel chains are increasingly showing willingness to form tie-ups with local players and the latter are being recognized for their remarkable and novel services.

Despite a rise in the number of hotels, Qatar has seen an increase in hotel occupancy rate by almost 15%. An increase was recorded mainly in the number of tourists visiting from the region. The total number of tourists from GCC countries has grown by 13% while tourists from the rest of the world increased by 10% last year.

Strategy for success
In terms of tourism strategy, as a general rule, Qatar doesn't favor mass tourism and prefers to cater to a select luxury or business traveler. Of the estimated 50 million passengers expected to fly through the new Hamad International Airport, the Qatar Tourism Authority estimates only 5% of these travelers to experience Qatar.The QTA also expects the volume of transit passengers stopping over to increase.

QTA believes thatQatar's tourism sector is growing fast and in many directions, so securing the sustainable growth of the tourism sector in Qatar has become the essential part of its mission. Accordingly, the QTA has launched its upgraded website, providing tourists and those planning visits to Qatar easy access to information needed. Yet, the QTA has signed an agreement with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to collaborate on the development of a consistent and locally relevant monitoring and quality control system across a wide range of tourism activities. The QTA has also adopted a rating system for hotels as part of the "Hotels Quality Rating Program" aimed at improving the quality of services in the hospitality and tourism industry and creating a national benchmark of high standards.

While moving towards a successful World Cup in 2022, the QTA's partnership with UNWTO is expected to ensure that Qatar has a well-planned, quality and reliable tourism industry meeting the expectations of the international travel trade. QTA's agreement with UNWTO also seeks to align the travel boom with Qatar's 2030 Vision, ensuring that tourism is as well sustainable.

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