It is not at all surprising that Qatar’s tourism sector has achieved remarkable growth and significant developments over the past few years. The boom covers visitor numbers, tourism infrastructure and improvements in governance in order to achieve economic diversification, which is one of the most important objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030. The latest statistics showed that Qatar welcomed 1.19mn visitors during the first seven months of 2019, representing a 10.7% increase, compared to the same period in 2018. Of this, 469,000 (39%) were from Asia and 375,000 (31%) from Europe, while the number of visitors from the GCC reached 131,000 (11%).
It may be recalled that a new phase of tourism development in Qatar was launched when His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued on November 4, 2018, the decision establishing the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) under the chairmanship of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. QNTC, with HE Akbar al-Baker as its Secretary-General, continues to work with its partners from the government and private sectors in the implementation of the national strategy for the tourism sector, which enhances the visitor experience, diversifies local tourism products and offers, promotes efforts, and enhances opportunities for private sector investment in the field.
The issuance of Law No. 20 of 2018 on Tourism Regulation and Law No. 21 of 2018 on organising business events was one of the most important stages of the development of the tourism sector. These laws helped the sector to cope with the demands of the great developments in the tourism sector in terms of structure and management as well as the technical developments including diversifying export markets for visitors and diversifying tourism products and experiences. The tourism sector has recently undergone rapid development after the opening of QNTC representative offices in the major exporting markets of the US, Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, Russia, India, China and Southeast Asia. The co-operation between the QNTC and the World Tourism Organisation has been developed to include support for several global initiatives, while the council has worked to develop and regulate the way the tourism sector operates with a focus on developing the skills and competencies of workers in the sector, in addition to developing the form and content of tourism events and festivals.
Qatar can truly take pride in the fact that it has become the most open country in the Middle East and is the 8th most open in the world in term of visa facilitation. The country’s ‘open visa’ policies allow nationals of 88 countries to enter Qatar visa-free and to take advantage of the country’s privileged position – in the middle of the world – and the presence of Qatar Airways’ network of flights to and from more than 170 destinations worldwide.
In this context, the QNTC has organised several tourism events and festivals which support entrepreneurs and owners of home-based businesses to develop their brands and market their products. The most recent event was the 11-week ‘Summer in Qatar’ season, in which the National Tourism Council collaborated with 68 partners and introduced a programme suitable for all age groups of visitors.
The QNTC also launched an e-notification system in co-operation with the Ministry of Interior for those wishing to travel to Qatar during the summer season, including relatives, friends of resident, former residents of the country, and families to enjoy their time in Qatar. With the weather turning pleasant, tourism activities are all set to boom, for another record season.
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