Qatar's tourism sector has seen several remarkable achievements over the past few years.
These milestones helped grow the sector, whether in terms of the infrastructure or in terms of new projects that will boost the sector.
The sector saw marked growth in terms of the number of visitors to the country and the development of the infrastructure itself.
The tourism sector is crucial for the country due to the role it can play in achieving economic diversification, one of the main goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
The total number of visitors to Qatar in the first seven months of 2019 grew 10.7% year-over-year to 1.19mn.
Numbers show that visitors from Asia represented 39% of the total, with 469,100 visitors.
Europe followed with 31% and a total of 375,500 visitors.
GCC visitors grew 11% year-over-year to 131,600 thousand.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued an Amiri decision on November 4 of 2018 establishing the National Tourism Council under the chairmanship of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, marking a new phase in the development of the tourism sector in Qatar.
HE Akbar al-Baker was Secretary-General of the Council since its establishment.
The role of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) is to co-operate with the public and private sectors in implementing the national tourism strategy of diversifying the products available to tourists and enhance the tourism promotion campaigns.
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 United States, Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, Russia, India, China and Southeast Asia.
This coincides with the announcement of the World Tourism Organisation that Qatar has become the most open country in the Middle East and the 8th most open in the world.
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.
QNTC has worked to strengthen Qatar's position as a global business destination and to collaborate with Qatar Tourism Authority's partners to attract more conferences and exhibitions.
It has also been supporting companies to organise local exhibitions and events and give them the opportunity to lead the sector The council also launched several ad and promotional campaigns, in co-operation with leading media platforms around the world.
It also provided support to local companies in the sector with the goal of helping them develop their service.
The growth of the Qatari tourism sector relies on the infrastructure as well as the legislations that regulate the hospitality sector.
QNTC said that the main reason for the increase in the number of tourists was the recent moves to facilitate the visa procedures for visiting Qatar, making the country one of the most open and accessible in the Middle-East and eighth worldwide.
The visa-free entry policy allows entry to citizens of 80 countries around the world.
Qatar's strategic location and its national carrier's expansive network of 170 destinations around the world boosts Qatar's value as a tourist destination.
The council also sought to organise a number of promotional events, the biggest of which was the summer in Qatar.
The 11-week event saw QNTC co-operate with 68 partners, in addition to facilitating the process for relatives of current residents as well as past residents to visit.
Hotel offers also boosted occupancy rates.
The occupancy reached 40%, 10% in June on annual basis, and 4 % in July year over year.
The number rose to 60 % during Eid, with bookings worth QR44.5mn.
Another big event was the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) that took place at Oxygen Park.
The 11-day event saw 157 pavilions and 12 food trucks take part.
That is in addition to 37 international and local celebrity chefs from 17 countries and over 90 restaurants across Qatar are serving a curated "QIFF Menu".
The Shop Qatar festival was another initiative that saw 14 malls and 54 hotels all over the country offer big discounts.
Thanks to the wise leadership of Qatar, the tourism sector overcame the blockade imposed on Qatar since 2017, achieving high growth rates and attracting toursits from India, China, Russia, US, and Germany.
The first half of this year saw 1.05mn visitors.
Qatar's hospitality sector also continued its dominance, retaining the top rank in the Middle-East for a second year in the Guest Experience in the Middle East Report released by hospitality and travel data providers Olery.
The firm analysed more than 12mn guest comments from April 1 of 2018 to March 31 of 2019.
The private sector contributed to tourism investments, as tourism in Qatar is a high-growth industry that succeeded in a short period of time in growing its share and role in the country's economic diversification sought by the state.
The sector also created tremendous investment opportunities in all aspects of tourism such as business events services, culture and heritage, desert safari services, food, health and welfare, free activities and entertainment, sports, recreation, tour organisation, tourist accommodation, transportation services.
The National Tourism Council carries out another role as a provider of services to potential investors.
It familiarises those investors with the country's efforts to grow the sector, and potential projects they can take part in.
A big boost to these efforts is that fact that Qatar's economy generally encourages investment.
This was reflected in the Global Competitiveness Report 2019 which ranked Qatar as 51st globally and second in the Middle-East.
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