Qatar is set to reveal new tourism projects for the private sector at forthcoming ITB trade show in Berlin in March, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker has said.
Al-Baker, also the Secretary-General of the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC), said these major tourism projects will be “handed over to the private sector,” but the Government will retain an interest to “keep standards and quality”.
On developing Qatar’s tourism, he said, “My task (as Secretary-General of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) is to promote tourism, both for leisure and business.
“Qatar's tourism industry is the world's best kept secret. My duty as head of tourism council is to promote Qatar and put it strongly on the global tourism map,” al-Baker said.
The national carrier is also expected to make a number of notable announcements at the forthcoming ITB trade show in Berlin in Mar-2020. Alongside adding further new routes – the airline has already added 28 since the blockade was imposed on the country by a quartet of Arab nations, and will add 11 more during the course of 2020 – these will include some new tourism projects.
Earlier this year, at the Kuwait Air Show, Qatar Airways announced the latest expansion of its network with planned new connections this year to Almaty and Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) Cebu, (Philippines) Accra (Ghana) Trabzon (Turkey), Lyon (France), Luanda (Angola) and Siem Reap (Cambodia).
On the sidelines of the recent Qatar Aviation Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit 2020 in Doha, al-Baker said, “We want to have a network that will really serve our hub, but not compromise the quality of service.”
He said, “It is time to move from liberalisation on paper to liberalisation in practice”.
The airline has a first-hand experience of what al-Baker describes as “protectionist” practices that have seen its neighbours block all air connectivity between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But, this hasn’t blunted the airline’s development with the national carrier adding some 28 new routes since its imposition.
Replying to the impact of Novel coronavirus on the national carrier, the group chief executive said, “We did not stop because of the virus. It was for restrictions from other countries restricting access from China. It has created a huge problem for us. This is related to crewing issues and the ability for pilots and cabin crew to safely operate across the airline’s wide network. A number of countries have now blocked all arrivals from, or who have been in China within the past 14 days, the incubation period for the virus.”
Qatar Airways, like many other airlines, has suspended flights to mainland China due to the travel restrictions introduced by governments around the world rather than directly due to the coronavirus outbreak.