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Qatar kicks off 5-point global tourism plan
Qatar kicks off its global tourism strategy with a five-point plan. Kathi Everden talks to QTA chairman Ahmed Abdullah Al Nuaimi.
May 23, 2011 1:27 by Kathi Everden
With plans to double hotel inventory following its successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, plus a national airline that’s really going places, Qatar is poised to take its place on the global tourism stage.
And, marketing to align demand with product expansion, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has set out five planks on which to boost its awareness and appeal – sports tourism, meetings and events, culture, leisure, and stopover traffic.
Working with Qatar Airways on the latter sector is a natural choice given the airline’s 100-destination network and plans for 20 additional routes in the next two years with an order book of 200 aircraft.
“If we can capture just five per cent of the 16 million passengers carried annually by the airline, it will be a good market for us,” says QTA chairman, Ahmed Abdullah Al Nuaimi.
“This figure could double to 35 million with the new airport, and our aim is to promote the message that we can offer culture, desert adventure, spas, sunshine, shopping, restaurants and more.”
Al Nuaimi acknowledges that the public perceive Qatar to be boring with little to do, but a campaign aims to refute that. “The first focus will be in the UK, just prior to the World Travel Market [in London in November], when we will do a roadshow to different cities including Manchester, Glasgow and London – this will be supported by a PR and advertising campaign.
“We will take the opportunity to monitor the response we get to assess how effective our message is,” he says. “Then we will do the same in four or five cities in Germany before the ITB. We will also be supporting a major Qatar investment event in New York.”
Closer to home, Al Nuaimi says plans for a major regional campaign had been put on the back burner following recent events, although there was one positive outcome. “We will wait until spring
next year to target the GCC with a dedicated campaign.
“We feel it would be difficult to get our message across due to the instability in the region – although we have benefited from an influx of family visitors from Saudi Arabia as they seek alternative destinations to Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain.
“They can see there is much to do and the perception that Qatar is not a leisure destination is changing [in that market].”
The QTA is taking a measured approach tailoring its message to coincide with product development that will include cultural attractions, sport events and a huge injection of hotel rooms, including resorts and city properties. St Regis, Wyndham Grand, Solis, Kempinski, another Four Seasons, Nikki Beach and Planet Hollywood Hotels are all set to open their doors.
In addition, two convention and exhibition centres will launch within two years, reinforcing Qatar’s aim to become an international meeting venue.
“Mass tourism is not for us,” stresses Al Nuaimi. “What we are targeting is upscale leisure and stopover traffic, as well as corporate and MICE business.”
Photo supplied is a view from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.