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Qatar hopes to attract over 7 million tourists annually by 2030, without compromising ‘cultural identity’; $45 billion investment in the sector

Qatar hopes to attract over 7 million tourists annually and increase tourism sector’s GDP contribution to 5.1% by 2030, if the National Tourism Sector Strategy, unveiled last night, goes per plan.

This will involved an investment of close to $45 billion by the government and private sector, Issa Al Mohannadi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority said during his presentation. About $13-16 billion would be hotels and resorts. Currently the sector contributes 2.6% to the GDP, and in 2012 say 1.2 million visitors, most of whom were from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries.

QTA Chairman Issa Al Mohannadi

QTA Chairman Issa Al Mohannadi

A Question of Cultural Identity

Speaking to the media after the launch, QTA’s Director of Strategy Hassan Al Ibrahim said that the sector’s development would be in keeping with its ‘cultural identity’. He was responding to a question on the lack of clarity on certain issues that are of concern both the country’s majority expatriate population and tourists like dress code and rules on alcohol in the hospitality sector. “One of the guiding principle in the development of the strategy is to give importance to local cultural identity. Even from a commercial perspective, it makes sense to keep the experience authentic,” he said. The first of the four points listed in the development process on how the strategy will be achieved, is a reference to local traditions and values: “Uphold Qataris Arab and Islamic identity and moral code. Encourage family values and social cohesion.” The others are alignment with National Agenda, Positive Economic Impact and Environmental Sustainability.

Untapped Opportunities: Visa barriers, sub-optimal investment policies

The strategy also addresses the ‘untapped opportunities’. On the regulatory level, it lists strict entry barrier and sub-optimal visa procedures for most nationalities as an impediment. Inadequate sector regulations hindering growth and development, investment policies that limit opportunities, sub-par tourism offering (qualitative and quantitative) and shortage of qualified tourism human capital are the other challenges that are mentioned.

2030 goals

As of 2012, leisure tourists comprise only 27%, with rest coming to the country for business. The strategy hopes to increase that number to 64%. GCC tourists comprise 70% of all visitors at present, but the strategy will aim at attracting more non-GCC tourists, with that segment accounting for 64% by 2030. About 60,000 rooms will be available by then, with 1 to 3 star hotels making up a third of it. The strategy was unveiled in the presence of UNWTO Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai.

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