Qatar to revitalize tourism sector ahead of World Cup
Sep 27, 2021 – 8:18 AM
Akbar Al Baker, Managing Director of Qatar Airways Group and President of Qatar Tourism
Doha: Qatar Airways Group Managing Director and Chairman of Qatar Tourism, HE Akbar Al Baker, highlighted the impact of a thriving tourism industry on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Al Baker also underlined that Qatar will continue to develop the sector ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030.
In a statement yesterday, Al Baker said: âToday the world celebrates World Tourism Day under the slogan ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’. This recognizes the benefits that the tourism industry brings to the global economy as it affects many parts of the country. The endorsement of His Highness Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the establishment of Qatar Tourism reaffirms the importance of the tourism industry for the future of the State of Qatar.
According to the World Tourism Organization, between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85% below 2019 levels, down 65% in 2020). Despite a slight increase in May, the emergence of COVID-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the resumption of international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world.
âThe tourism industry has recently faced major challenges, which have had a significant operational impact on the tourism and travel sector. However, despite the virtual cessation of tourism and travel in the recent past, Qatar Tourism and our stakeholders have worked to develop skills and services to revitalize the sector to welcome visitors again â, Al Baker added.
Regarding the preparation for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Al Baker said: âAs we prepare to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the tourism experience is an important part of the success of the tournament recognizing Qatar’s promise to host the most impressive tournament in World Cup history. To this end, we have set ourselves the goal of achieving service excellence at all visitor touchpoints, creating products and experiences. We have worked closely with our partners, integrating operations to develop COVID-19 recovery measures for the travel and tourism sector in accordance with international best practices. We have managed to introduce several initiatives, to publish new laws and regulations that have contributed to the recovery of the sector.
âStarting with the launch of the ‘Qatar Clean’ initiative, which has helped elevate the hotel and restaurant sectors. The hotel industry has seen occupancy rate growth of 7% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, despite an increase in the supply of room keys. This underlines our success in boosting domestic tourism and restoring confidence in the safety and quality of service provided by the hospitality industry. We recently issued regulations for âvacation homesâ, a new tourism product for individuals and families visiting Qatar. This program offers a new investment opportunity in Qatar.
Al Baker added that Qatar Tourism has taken several innovative steps to launch activities to boost the retail sector, all in a safe and COVID-19-friendly environment.
âWe were able to overcome the difficult circumstances resulting from border closures and the precautionary measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. We have found new ways to organize tourism events, exhibitions and festivals that prioritize safe experiences for the public. The 17th edition of the HEYA Arabian Fashion exhibition was the first major event to take place after the pandemic and followed strict health and safety precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also organized the first virtual festival in Qatar, the Chefs of Qatar Food Festival. We launched the 5th edition of the Shop Qatar Festival to revitalize the retail sector in Qatar.
âAdditionally, we have launched our Service Excellence Program, to ensure unparalleled customer service experiences across all visitor touchpoints. Supervised by a dedicated management team, this program will be applied in all tourist outlets in the country. It started with the refurbishment of traditional dhow boats. We also signed an agreement with Mowasalat, whereby we launched an initiative to train over 6,000 Karwa drivers.
âDuring this time, we started our digital transformation journey. Along with a refreshed Visit Qatar website, we also launched our first mobile app to be a digital travel companion for visitors, allowing them to explore Qatar’s various offerings. In addition, the outstanding performance of Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport during the global pandemic has played a vital role in promoting the travel and tourism industry in Qatar. Adopting global protocols for health and safety during the pandemic, Qatar Airways has won seven international awards and titles, with Hamad International Airport becoming the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to receive a 5-star airport safety rating Skytrax COVID-19, in addition to being named World’s Best Airport at the famous 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
He added that “We will continue to develop the travel and tourism industry in Qatar and achieve integration across the sector to increase efficiency and help achieve the overall development defined by Qatar National Vision 2030”.