Strategy for sustainable tourism development
September 19 2015 01:53 AM

Mashal Shahbik: QTA project manager

By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) wants to have a “sustainable tourism calendar” aimed at further attracting more visitors from different parts of the world.
“We want to bring in entertainment and highlight what we are offering as a tourism industry,” QTA project manager Mashal Shahbik said on the sidelines of the annual Framework Summit recently.
The annual events and festivals organised by QTA include Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha celebrations, the Qatar Summer Festival and the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) in partnership with Qatar Airways.
Shahbik noted that QTA recorded a 7% overall increase in the number of visitors from January to July compared with the corresponding period in 2014.
“This is an indicator helping us to know that we will meet our target of 3mn visitors this year,” she observed.
The festivals, the touristic attractions and wide marketing promotions, in the region and internationally, are all helping to achieve the number, according to the QTA official.
“Each festival and event has its own objectives,” she stressed. “Collectively, we are trying to have a sustainable one.”
Shahbik cited the success of the QIFF which attracts a large number of visitors at the Museum of Islamic Art park every March.
Besides food, the event  focuses on elements such as the promotion of culture and heritage, entertainment shows for all ages, promotion of touristic destinations, and raising public awareness on healthy living and an active lifestyle.
“We launched the Qatar Summer Festival in 2014; every couple of years we are trying to have an important festival on our annual calendar,” Shahbik said.
In the 2015 edition, QTA collaborated with its Saudi office to market the event by doing outdoor advertising campaigns and mall promotions.
She lauded the performance of QTA’s overseas offices saying that the number of visitors travelling from Europe had increased not only in summer but also during the first half of the year.
For the GCC market, QTA recorded a 17% increase (collectively) in arrivals from January to July. Most of the visitors were from Saudi Arabia.
“The festivals, you want first the local people to interact with it, then you promote it regionally and then internationally when it is matured enough,” Shahbik pointed out. “In the first edition we promoted heavily in Qatar to boost domestic tourism.”

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