Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) released full year figures showing the tourism industry in Qatar continued its upward trajectory in 2013, benefitting from new investment and promotion. Key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth from the previous year. Based on the performance in 2013, the sector is on track to reach growth targets set out in the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy, both in terms of contribution to the economy and in overall visits. The past year’s data incorporates a wider set of statistics, adding to the quality of the information which is aiding in the planning, development and promotion of this sector of Qatar’s economy.
During 2013, Qatar welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors from around the world, compared to 1.2 million in the corresponding period last year. Regional visitors increased by 14.4%, with the greatest volumes from Saudi Arabia followed by UAE, with Kuwait continuing its high growth rate at over 35% compared to the last quarter of 2012. International arrivals increased by 9%, with an increase in business arrivals from Asia at 14%.
The largest source of tourists remains the GCC region with 1,090,239 visitors; followed by Asia (152,476 visitors), Europe (35,861 visitors), Non-GCC Arab countries (34,093 visitors), and Africa (4,045 visitors), arriving on either business or tourist visas.
Commenting on the results, His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA, said: ” There is no doubt that Qatar has made great strides in promoting its tourism sector and in attracting a greater number of visitors to the country. Tourism remains a significant economic driver for Qatar”.
“There is, of course, much to accomplish toward our goal of 7 million visitors by 2030. While the 2013 figures are impressive, we have to look beyond numbers and continue the shift towards quality, sustainable tourism. We are achieving these results through expanded public-private and public-public partnerships that are driving sector growth via new opportunities. QTA is committed through the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 to continue the development of Qatar’s tourism sector, while allowing the country and Qataris to reap the benefit of a rich and diversified tourism sector,” added Al Mohannadi.
The average hotel occupancy rate rose from 60% to 65%, this despite additional rooms added to the market. This corresponds to an overall increase of QR 411.13 million in revenues (+13%) in 4 and 5-star hotels. These performance improvements bring 4 and 5-star hotel annual earnings to QR 3.58 billion. Four and 5-star hotels make up 11,717 of Qatar’s 13,551 rooms.
A recovering global economy and an influx of companies supporting Qatar’s infrastructure development drove the tourism sector forward in 2013. A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, and increased regional and international promotion during 2013 also pushed growth in the leisure sector. Activities in this sector include the seasonal festivals, international performances and family entertainment, international and regional exhibitions and conferences, as well as world-class sporting events held in Qatar.
The tourism sector realized a number of key achievements in 2013 within the framework of developing the tourism sector and promoting Qatar as a destination of choice, including:
- Proper governance and comprehensive plans, policies, and regulations
- An inclusive exercise for strategy development and the kickoff of the implementation phase.
- Designing the regulatory framework for tourism products and services in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to take Qatar’s booming tourism sector into the future.
- Sectorial capacity building
- Forging long-term relationships with academic institutions such as Qatar University and Stenden University.
- Launching the tour guide program in collaboration with Stenden University.
- Launching Josoor institute in partnership with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, an initiative that aims to build capacity in hospitality, tourism and sports.
- Diversification and development of Qatar’s tourism product and service portfolio
- Announcing the final concept master plan for the new Doha Zoo, the biggest in the region.
- Launching the Qatar Events Diary ‘OnQatar.qa’ an online platform set to be the source of information for all events and activities in Qatar.
- Hosting large-scale events and congresses, such as the Doha Jewelry and Watches Exhibition, the Qatar Motor Show, Project Qatar, the ICC World Chamber Federation 8th World Chambers Congress, and the Qatar International Food Festival.
- Attracting more domestic and regional tourists through seasonal festivals such as the Spring Festival, the Eid Festival, the Traditional Dhow Festival and increasing live family entertainment such as Disney on Ice, Cirque Du Soleil and Souq Waqif live shows.
- Drawing 33,000 visitors to National Day celebrations, in collaboration with National Day Organizing Committee and tourism sector stakeholders.
- Hosting a range of high-quality sporting events, including a friendly match between Spain and Uruguay, and the regular features including the Qatar Total Open and Qatar ExxonMobil Open in tennis as well as the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in golf.
- Collaborating with the Qatar Museums Authority and the British Council on Qatar UK 2013, a full year of arts and cultural exchange, which saw dozens of events and offerings, including the Relics exhibition featuring the art of Damien Hirst in Doha.
- Expanding market exposure
- Opening of French representative office in Paris, the second representative office in Europe, with more offices planned in key markets around the world to expand awareness of Qatar as a destination, and for the sector to promote its offerings.
- Promoting and marketing the destination in in tourism and travel major trade shows, such as World Travel Market, ITB Berlin and ITB Asia, EIBTM, Arabian Travel Market to establish long term relationship with industry stakeholders in target markets and increase their awareness of the tourism products and services in Qatar.
- Launching the second phase of the QTA and Paris Saint-Germain partnership, with the PSG handball team arriving in Doha for a training camp at the Aspire Zone state of the art training facilities in August 2013, and the PSG football team arriving in Doha and touring the touristic attractions of the country for their annual Qatar winter tour in late December 2013, which was followed by the friendly game with Real Madrid on 2nd of Jan 2014.
Commenting on the sectorial achievements, Hassan Al-Ibrahim, QTA Director of Strategy Development and the head of the tourism industry development committee, said: “The year 2013 was a turning point in the history of the tourism industry in Qatar. On an institutional level, QTA launched the Project Management Office to ensure timely implementation of the strategy initiatives and started the institutional transformation program. And on an industry level, the stakeholders are engaged and the private sector is leading the change in the sector.”
QTA has a key role to play in coordinating the development of a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar and growing tourism’s contribution to a diversified national economy. The scene is set for continued growth, as new infrastructure readies to accelerate the growth of the sector in 2014 and beyond. A total of 124 hotel establishments are planned, bringing an additional 21,402 rooms, suites and units when completed. Doha Exhibition and Conference Center is under construction and Hamad International Airport is set for a 2014 opening. QTA has recently launched a new phase in Qatar’s tourism industry with the release of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, which will serve as the road map for the sector’s development in the coming years.
Central to the continued growth of the tourism sector is collaboration with private and public-sector stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. Through a myriad of events, promotions and partnerships, QTA and stakeholders are delivering value for the benefit of the entire industry – value that contributes to the sustainability and maturity of the tourism sector in Qatar.