The Qatari government is creating a new National Tourism Council in place of the current Qatar Tourism Authority, giving the tourism sector a lot more clout than ever before.
The council will report to a board of high-level representatives that will be chaired by no less than the Prime Minister himself, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is also the country’s interior minister.
The board will guide the overall development of and monitor tourism’s performance, and ensure cross-sector collaboration. It will also oversee three new entities that will be charged with developing large-scale tourism products and experiences, promoting the destination internationally, and consolidating the efforts of existing stakeholders in the business events sub-sector.
The move was announced as part of the launch of the “next chapter” of Qatar’s National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030.
Said Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority: “The tourism sector is unique in its reliance on many ancillary sectors to succeed. Recognising the importance of close coordination, the Qatari government has endorsed a new governance structure that will empower the sector and help us work together to achieve greater results.”
He added that by putting new policies and structures in place, the new tourism blueprint aims to further develop important sector enablers, such as a supportive regulatory framework for tourism establishments, enhancing the ease of doing business in the sector, and additional visa facilitation measures.
Setting a target of 5.6 million visitors annually by 2023, double that seen in 2016, and a 73 per cent hotel occupancy rate, the strategy outlines Qatar’s destination positioning for the next five years, and guides the development of products, services, and experiences to support this.
The plan, for instance, identifies six geographic zones across the country, each tied to tourism themes based on the area’s geographic characteristics and natural assets. Local and international investors will be invited to develop tourism products and services in each geographic zone.
There are also plans to expand Qatar’s global network of tourism promotion offices; add programmes that facilitate interactions and shared experiences between Qatar’s residents and guests; as well as create tourism experience units in all relevant public and private sector entities.
The next five years is also expected to see intensified efforts to ensure that a visitor-friendly infrastructure, both physical and digital, is in place. In addition, training programmes will be developed and provided to all government and private sector employees in tourist-facing jobs.
Looking farther ahead, the strategy aims to have increased tourism’s direct contribution to Qatar’s GDP from QAR19.8 billion (US$5.3 billion) in 2016 to QAR41.3 billion, representing a direct contribution to the GDP of 3.8 per cent (compared to 3.5 per cent in 2016).