Qatar’s tourism sector reached new heights during a year which had the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as the crowning glory. The mega sporting event which attracted more than 1.4mn football fans from across the world, has now been announced as the best World Cup of this century, in a BBC Sports poll.
Apart from the attending matches of the 29-day, 32-nation tournament, foreign visitors also had the opportunity to explore Qatar’s various tourism offerings, ranging from iconic landmarks and attractions to the country’s culinary scene, arts and culture, festivals, and major events, among other experiences.
In the lead-up to the prestigious tournament, Qatar has already welcomed more than one million visitors from the start of 2022 to August – seen as a remarkable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qatar Tourism (QT) logged 729,000 international arrivals in the first half of this year, which is 19% higher compared to 2021’s (full year) 611,000 visitors to the country. June 2022 alone witnessed 149,000 visitors coming to Qatar – recorded as “the highest visitation to Qatar in the summer month in the last five years.”
According to QT, 34% of the total number of visitors entered by land (51,000); 6% by sea (10,000), and 59% by air (88,000) via the Hamad International Airport - voted as the World’s Best Airport by Skytrax for the second year in a row.
According to QT, Qatar concluded the winter cruise season (from December 2021 to June 2022) with 101,000 cruise passengers with 34 cruise ship calls. This figure is approximately 12% of the total arrivals during the same period of last year.
As the FIFA World Cup approached, football fever gripped Qatar with the arrival of nearly 180,000 visitors in October – a six-year high – with the hosting of a sea of events and new launches. The country featured family-friendly attractions and entertainment, as well as unique exhibitions and festivals.
Visitors also witnessed the opening of different world-leading luxury hotels and resorts, including Fuwairit Kite Beach, Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha, and The Outpost Al Barari; various attractions; luxury malls (Printemps); the reopening of the Museum of Islamic Art; the inauguration of Darb Lusail Festival and the pedestrianised Lusail Boulevard – dubbed as “the country’s latest open-air shopping and dining destination”; and the opening of Al Maha Island and a number of public beaches at West Bay area; in addition to the events organised as part of Qatar - Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) Year of Culture.
Multi-awarded and World’s Best Airline by Skytrax, Qatar Airways, played a key role in further boosting the country’s tourism sector, operating nearly 14,000 flights during the World Cup. The national carrier was the Official Airline Partner of FIFA.
During 2022, QT launched a number of campaigns to promote Qatar as a tourism destination such as the “No Football. No Worries.”, featuring legendary Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo who highlights Qatar’s world-class and curated offerings.
“In a series of humorous advertisements,” Pirlo is seen “enjoying various adventures in Qatar, from sandboarding down the desert dunes of the Inland Sea and soaking up the culture in the Museum of Islamic Art to kitesurfing at the country’s new resort, Fuwairit Kite Beach.”
QT also launched an initiative titled ‘Posts of Qatar’, which showcased “10 distinct goalpost art installations that frame some of the most iconic landmarks and Insta-worthy spots across the country”.
QT noted that “the initiative represents the ultimate fusion of the country’s love for football, appreciation for art, and talent for creating striking destinations.”
The FIFA World Cup 2022 attracted more than 1.4mn football fans from across the globe. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
The Lusail Boulevard was a favourite destination during the mega sporting event. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
The Souq Waqif was a melting point of cultures during the FIFA World Cup 2022. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
A relaxing atmosphere at the Katara South Hills. PICTURE: VisitQatar
The Museum of Islamic Art reopened in time for the World Cup in Qatar. PICTURE: VisitQatar
'Falcon' by Dutch artist Tom Claassen stands at Hamad International Airport. Some 34% of the total number of visitors entered by land (51,000); 6% by sea (10,000), and 59% by air (88,000) via the airport. PICTURE: VisitQatar
The World Cup showcased Qatar's unique desert landscape. PICTURE: VisitQatar