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Qatar Targets 5.6 Million Annual Visitor Arrivals by 2023; Outlines New Tourism Strategy

Qatar has unveiled a new chapter of its National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, which charts the next five years of the tourism sector’s growth in Qatar.

 The plan was announced by His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, at the UNWTO’s official celebration of World Tourism Day.

The Next Chapter, as Qatar calls it, defines what the country will be known for as a tourist destination, and guides the development of products, services, and experiences that will bring this vision to life.

 His Excellency also announced that in the coming months, the sector’s governance will be reorganised around a new National Tourism Council that is empowered to focus and integrate the efforts of key stakeholders and facilitators in ways that will provide clarity, direction, and momentum for the tourism sector’s improvement and growth.

Atrium lounge at the Sheraton Doha, one of the most popular and established hotels in Qatar

 Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, said, “Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have explored the most effective ways to build on the strong foundations that have been laid for the tourism sector since 2014, and to further develop the country’s existing cultural and natural assets. As a result, the Next Chapter positions Qatar as a hub to discover - where cultural authenticity meets modernity, where the sand meets the sea, and where people of the world come together to experience unique offerings in culture, sports, business and family entertainment.”

Al Ibrahim added that the Next Chapter introduces a tourism blueprint for the country, outlining how this positioning will come to life over the next five years.

This blueprint identifies six geographic zones across the country and ties each zone to tourism themes based on the area’s geographic characteristics and natural assets. Local and international investors will be invited to develop tourism products and services in each geographic zone, in line with its proposed theme.

 “The opportunities presented in the Next Chapter are boundless. Professionals, investors, and the people of Qatar, all have the chance to be part of building what Qatar will be known for in the minds of visitors, for decades to come,” said Al Ibrahim.

In addition to the development of tourism products, the Next Chapter also details a plan to expand the country’s calendar of year-round tourism festivals and events, and to generate global interest in the country through expanding Qatar’s global network of tourism promotion offices.

Placing visitor experience at the heart of tourism development Ensuring the best possible end-to-end experience for visitors to Qatar is at the heart of the Next Chapter. The strategy lays out plans and measures that are designed to ensure favourable experiences at every touch point of the visitor’s journey. These include programs to facilitate interactions and shared experiences between Qatar’s residents and its guests, as well as the creation of tourism experience units in all relevant public and private sector entities that will be tasked with ensuring that their organisations’ services are continuously enhanced to provide remarkable experiences for Qatar’s visitors.

The next five years will also witness intensive efforts to ensure infrastructure, both physical and digital, is in place to facilitate visitors’ journeys to, from and within Qatar. In addition, training programmes will be developed and provided to all government and private sector employees in tourist-facing jobs.

Establishing a new governance structure to enhance integration and enable development to achieve the Next Chapter’s targets, Qatar’s leadership has announced a new governance structure for the tourism sector to coordinate, consolidate and focus the efforts of its key members and stakeholders.

Qatar Tourism Authority will become the National Tourism Council, and will report to a Board of high-level representatives, chaired by His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Board will guide the overall development of the sector, monitor tourism sector performance, and ensure cross-sector collaboration and focus.

The Board of the National Tourism Council will also oversee three new entities that will be charged with developing large-scale tourism products and experiences, promoting the destination internationally, and consolidating the efforts of existing stakeholders in the business events sub-sector.

“The tourism sector is unique in its reliance on many ancillary sectors to succeed. Recognising the importance of close coordination, the Qatari government has endorsed a new governance structure that will empower the sector and help us work together to achieve greater results,” said Al Ibrahim. “This new structure also helps us to expand the functions of product development, international promotion, as well as the development of the business events sub-sector, all while ensuring they move forward with significant involvement and leadership from the private sector.”

He added that by putting new policies and structures in place, the Next Chapter aims to further develop important sector enablers, such as a supportive regulatory framework for tourism establishments, enhancing the ease of doing business in the sector, and additional visa facilitation measures to increase visitor access to Qatar.

Five-Year Targets

The Next Chapter aims to attract 5.6 million visitors to Qatar annually by 2023, double the number which the country welcomed in 2016.

 It also aims to achieve a 72% occupancy rate across all hotel establishments, through a combination of increasing demand and diversifying the country’s tourist accommodation offering.

Also by 2023, the strategy aims to have increased tourism’s direct contribution to Qatar’s GDP from QAR 19.8 billion in 2016 to QAR 41.3 billion, representing a direct contribution to the GDP of 3.8% (compared to 3.5% in 2016).

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