DEVELOPING AN ECOSYSTEM FOR TOURISM
As the inhabitants of the Middle East’s emerging tourist destination, we confront a new and exciting, if challenging, opportunity: to define what Qatar’s fast-growing tourism industry should look like and actively guide its development towards the future we want. The best, and – in my opinion, as a businessman – the only way of doing this is to seize the responsibility for creating and growing Qatar’s tourism companies, so that we, ourselves, provide the products and services we want to see as a sincere reflection of our own culture.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), for over a decade Qatar has been the only country in the Middle East region that has maintained consistent growth in tourist arrivals. Indeed, growth in visitor arrivals to Qatar more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, rising from 1.38 million to 2.93 million visitors. Projecting ahead, figures from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) suggest that tourist arrivals in 2030
LOCAL BUSINESSMAN ASHRAF ABU ISSA SHARES HIS INSIGHT ON QATAR’S BRIGHT, YOUNG TOURISM SECTOR AND ITS NEED FOR STRATEGIC SUPPORT AND EXPERIENCE.
could reach seven million visitors per year. QTA also projects that tourism could contribute a total (i.e, direct, indirect and induced) impact of 5.2% of Qatar’s total GDP by 2030 – the equivalent of 9.7% of the non-hydrocarbon economy. This will contribute significantly to Qatar’s desired goal of a diversified economy, and tourism enjoys national support as such.
There is no doubt that it is our nature and culture as Qataris to be hospitable to the end, and we will always extend a warm welcome to visitors; however, we find ourselves at an important juncture in time. With seven million people set to visit Doha annually, there is clearly enormous scope to develop a wide range of tourist offerings that attract tourists and entice them to come back for repeated visits. Undoubtedly, many of these offerings will be similar to what is already offered in other countries. Nevertheless, there will also be a demand for authentic and unique Qatari experiences.
It is not just a matter of building more hotel rooms: Qatar presently offers over