The success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has had a direct impact on Qatar's tourism, as the number of tourists coming to the country reached a record-breaking 1.5mn in just the first half of 2023, HE the Chairman of Qatar Tourism (QT) and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency.
He noted that, in particular, Qatar proves to be a prime destination during national holidays and special occasions, adding that Qatar Tourism expects to see a strong influx of travellers during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holidays.
Also, with the Formula One Qatar Grand Prix and Geneva International Motor Show scheduled for October, as well as the upcoming International Horticultural Expo Doha 2023, a diverse and robust schedule of events has been lined up through the year. These are expected to attract a significant number of visitors from around the world, he said.
HE al-Baker stressed that the tourism sector in Qatar has witnessed, over the past few years, exceptional development that has placed the country among the top tourist destinations in the region, especially after its distinguished hosting of the World Cup in 2022.
He touched upon the positive impact of the tournament on the tourism sector in general and the role it played in highlighting Qatar's culture and modernity. Noting that the tournament demonstrated to the world that Qatar is a world-class destination, he highlighted the major role the World Cup played in introducing the world to Qatar, as the country welcomed more than 1.4mn visitors from around the world. This marked the first visit to the region for many, who were introduced to the authentically warm Arabian hospitality that characterises Qatar.
HE the Chairman of Qatar Tourism highlighted the rapid developments witnessed by the country over the past decade, including eight state-of-the-art stadiums, a brand-new metro system, the construction of an entirely new cruise terminal, the expansion and beautification of Hamad International Airport and the development of Lusail - Qatar's smart, future city, in addition to one-of-a-kind districts and tourism attractions such as Msheireb Downtown Doha - which integrates both sustainability and heritage, further presenting to global travellers Qatar's unique blend of modernity and authenticity.
HE al-Baker affirmed that QT is committed to building on the success of the World Cup and continuing to promote Qatar as a world-class travel destination, adding that with its rich cultural heritage, modern infrastructure, and welcoming hospitality, Qatar has something to offer every traveller, and the country is poised to become one of the most sought-after destinations in the world.
He said Qatar Tourism has trained more than 33,000 frontline service professionals through the 'Qatar Host' programme to ensure they are prepared to guide visitors across every touchpoint. Internationally, Qatar Tourism has enhanced more than 700 global travel trade partners' knowledge of Qatar's diverse product offering.
He added that Qatar Tourism has also issued more than 3,500 holiday home licences for over 9,500 rooms since the launch of the initiative, adding to the variety of accommodation options that were available for visitors during the World Cup and ensuring that short-term property rentals are regulated to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for those who visit Qatar.
HE al-Baker noted that Qatar Tourism's digital transformation journey has also been a critical factor in promoting the country. To date, QT has received 13 international awards for its digital transformation, demonstrating its success in leveraging digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience, increase engagement and drive tourism growth.
Further, HE al-Baker stressed that Qatar Tourism has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing the tourism sector in the country through its collaborative efforts with various institutions and entities. He highlighted the education campaign launched in collaboration with Qatar Foundation and Qatar University, which aims to promote Qatar as a world-class education hub, adding that this campaign is targeted towards students (and their parents) in the region, showcasing why the students should consider studying in Qatar.
He added that Qatar Tourism's monthly 'Qatar Calendar,' which gathers information from stakeholders and promotes their events, is another example of co-operation. It provides locals and visitors with all the information they need, including event details, dates, times and more.
"Moreover, Qatar Tourism has collaborated with 10 shopping malls during its flagship annual event, Shop Qatar, to bring residents and visitors to these malls to enjoy their unique offerings," he said.
HE al-Baker believes that Qatar has firmly established itself as a premier destination for both leisure and business travellers, saying that with an array of exciting events and festivals always lined up, visitors can look forward to a year-round schedule of entertainment and cultural activities.
The Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition and Qatar International Food Festival are just two of the many events organised by QT that draw visitors from all corners of the globe annually. And more major events are lined up through the year.
In addition to those interested in experiencing the Arabian traditions of Qatar and attending the numerous events and festivals held in the country, he stressed that Qatar is a hidden gem for celebrities and VIPs looking to shop and dine in ultra-luxurious outlets while not being disturbed by busy crowds.
HE the Chairman of Qatar Tourism and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker