Browsing 'tourism' News

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways has been attracting a lot of attention with Qatar Airways’ Holidays. It is offering attractive tour packages to Russia for FIFA 2018 World Cup, Russia, to be taking place from 14th June to 15th June 2018. Yesterday, it announced its first ‘Global Travel Boutique’ giving out amazing discounts on first class cabins.

‘Global Travel Boutique’ will offer exclusive range of discounts on Economy, Business and First class, with an opportunity to win exclusive prizes including one million Qmiles from Qatar Airways privilege club, discounts from Qatar duty free and prizes from Qatar Airways Holidays. It is further expected to expand its global network during 2018 by adding more flights for more exciting destinations such as, Pattaya, Thailand, Penang, Malaysia, and Canberra to name a few.

The offers introduced by Qatar Airways may be an initiative to boost tourist inflow and outflow that had been hit by the rerouting of flights, given the blockade by Bahrain and UAE. This can also be considered as a promotional step by Qatar to facilitate audience to attend FIFA 2018 in Russia.

The offers may reduce the cost of travel for people of Qatar, but only marginally. As the travel cost to and from Qatar increased due to rerouting of fights that otherwise covered less distance and saved time. But still it will prove to be a relief from the rise in travel cost to an extent.

This is a good opportunity for expats to plan and make booking for their holidays and also a great opportunity for football fans to experience live FIFA 2018 World Cup, Russia. As the packages, even with nominal reduction, will be able to help travellers with getting hotel booking and match tickets to group matches as well as the Semi-Final and Final for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Katara Hospitality

Rendering of new aqua park for Qetaifan Island North

A new luxury resort with a water park and four-star hotel will be built on an island off the coast of Lusail, Katara Hospitality announced this week.

The triangular Qetaifan Island North is expected to attract both tourists and residents.

The first phase of the project – the aqua park and 400-room hotel – should be completed by spring 2022, the state-funded hospitality group said.

Katara Hospitality

Rendering of development on Qetaifa Island North

Renderings of the resort show multiple pools with water slides, all set in landscaped grounds and adjacent to a series of beaches.

Leading off that is a pier extending out to another smaller island, and little trains appear to run the length of the connection.

The project is the first new tourist development to be announced since Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said last week that it will be ramping up efforts to attract 5.6 million visitors to the country by 2023.

More visitors

The resort will be developed and managed by a new company, Qetaifan Projects, which is a QR11 billion subsidiary of Katara Hospitality.

Meanwhile, project management consultants Atkins will design the masterplan, infrastructure and components of phase one.

QTA/Twitter

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A shopping plaza, park, souq, mixed-use retail complex and staff accommodation are all planned for the second stage of the island’s development.

Katara Hospitality has not yet given an opening date for this phase.

Second island

The development will be one of two adjacent islands off the coast of Lusail city.

Qetaifan Island South is being run by Lusail Real Estate Development Company and will feature luxury villas.

In March 2014, 50 plots were sold to developers, while a year later a further 35 plots villas were snapped up in a public offering.

Lusail Real Estate Development Company

Qetaifan Island bridge

According to Lusail’s website, this island promises “exclusive property” with communal areas, dune-grassed landscaping with boardwalks as well as pools and spas.

Both islands will be connected to the mainland by “iconic” hanging bridges, Katara Hospitality said.

Previous plans have shown a cluster of four islands, however the latest announcement mentions only two.

Lusail ‘extension’

The new island is the latest development for Katara Hospitality. It plans to expand its current portfolio of 42 hotels in a dozen countries, to 60 properties by 2026.

Construction is underway on another key landmark project by Katara Hospitality in the new city – Katara Towers, which are expected to be complete by 2020.

Kling Consult

The Katara Towers at Lusail

When complete, it will house two hotels, luxury apartments, restaurants and entertainment and recreation facilities.

The hotel owner/operator has billed the north island development as a “key element of Lusail City’s expansion.”

Ambitious plans for Lusail include attracting 200,000 people to live there by 2022. However, much of the new city is still under construction.

In addition to hosting Qatar’s centerpiece World Cup stadium, the city will have multiple hotels and upscale shopping malls as well as residential complexes and business towers.

Additionally, a light rail network is being built, which will ultimately have four mainlines covering 33km.

The first line – yellow – is expected to start operating in January 2019, with the rest following by 2020, according to the joint venture QDVC.

Other resorts

This is not the first time developers have proposed plans for new island resorts off Qatar’s coast.

Penny Yi Wang

Oryx Island

In May 2013, Barwa Real Estate announced the $5.5 billion Oryx Island, which would feature a water park, villas with private beaches and five floating hotels, to be used during the 2022 World Cup.

The manmade island would have been built using excavated material from the construction of the Doha Metro, Barwa officials said at the time.

However, just a year later those plans have already been shelved.

Al Bandary Real Estate

Amwaj suites and residences

Meanwhile, in Lusail itself, Bandary Real Estate announced in 2015 it would be building a different water park, called Amwaj (“waves”), which has multiple pools next to two linked residential towers.

Thoughts?

QTA/Twitter

For illustrative purposes only

Qatar will build new eco lodges, desert adventure resorts, nature reserves and heritage boutique hotels to attract millions of visitors in the coming five years, officials have announced.

The goal is to have tourism contribute QR41.3 billion directly to the country’s coffers – or about 3.8 percent of Qatar’s GDP – by 2023.

The target was announced yesterday. It comes amid an ongoing boycott led by neighboring Saudi Arabia, whose citizens accounted for one-third of the 2.9 million visitors to Qatar last year.

Francisco Anzola/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Cognizant of its dependence on Gulf tourists, officials said they hope to double the number of visitors to 5.6 million by 2023 through “diversification.”

This means wooing more people from populous nations like Russia, China and India, said Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).

The QTA opened three offices in China – in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – earlier this month.

Plans are also afoot to set up new offices in India and Russia to market Qatar, Al Ibrahim said.

He added that in the coming year, the QTA will be replaced with a new body – the National Tourism Council. It will report to a board chaired by the country’s Prime Minister.

Six zones

As part of its new plan, Qatar will bill itself as “a hub to discover.”

New destinations and events will focus on the country’s culture and heritage, with emphasis placed on family entertainment, sport and leisure.

Nada Badawi

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

One aim is to have 67 percent of all tourists by 2023 in town for leisure purposes. Qatar will also further develop its appeal as a destination for business tourism, for people who come for conferences and trade expos.

To accomplish its goals, the country will be divided into six regional zones, each with a particular tourism focus:

  • Doha will be a center of cultural tourism, with several, as yet unnamed new projects planned;
  • Al Khor and Al Thakira to the northwest will promote eco-tourism;
  • Zubarah and Ras Brouq at the northern tip of the peninsula will emphasize heritage projects;
  • New resorts in Dukhan will focus on relaxation and wellness;
  • The southwestern areas of Al Mashahiya and Al Eraiq are planned to have nature reserves, providing tourists with typical desert and hunting experiences; and
  • Camping and adventure will be the theme of resorts at Al Udeid and Sealine, in the southeast of the country.

“We want to increase awareness to the world of what Qatar offers as a tourism destination,” Al Ibrahim said.

Luxury lodges and heritage hotels

One part of the tourism strategy entails creating heritage boutique hotels through the renovation of abandoned fishing villages on Qatar’s northern coast.

A picturesque fishing boat harbor and small souqs are also planned.

Doha News

QTA-proposed eco lodge

Visitors there would be able to partake in surfing and gliding, free diving, traditional diving from fishing boats, hot air ballooning, hunting and camel riding trips.

Luxury “low environmental impact eco-lodges” are planned for Bin Ghannam island, northeast of Doha.

Jeff Epp

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

There, boat tours amid the mangroves and safari trips to observe native wild animals would be offered.

Meanwhile at Al Uraiq and Mashabiya on the southwestern coast, new resorts will focus on habitat conservation and wildlife protection.

In additional to the Salwa resort, which is already under construction, there will be a new Mashabiya resort.

A model of the plans for this was on display, showing a low-level resort tucked into the desert.

It will provide activities including a camel training center, shooting range, museum and education center in addition to swimming pools and restaurants.

Doha News

QTA model of proposed Mashabiya resort

Public and private organizations will be expected to collaborate to develop new products and services and there will be a concerted effort to improve the overall visitor experience in Qatar, Al Ibrahim added.

More festivals are also planned, such as the summer festival that brought in QR630 million last year. Additionally, new year-round family events are in the works.

Details of these have yet to be revealed.

Boosting occupancy

Qatar also has plans to boost hotel occupancy, which has fallen recently due to the surge in hotel construction ahead of the World Cup.

Occupancy fell 4 percent to 66 percent in the first quarter of this year, before the blockade began. By June, it stood at 62 percent.

Millennium Plaza Doha/Facebook

Millennium Plaza hotel in Al Sadd, which opened earlier this year

The new plan aims to raise this to 72 percent by 2023.

“Yes, the occupancy rate has dropped. This was expected as the number of hotels under construction has increased year-on-year. This is a normal phenomenon, especially prior to major events in any destination,” Al Ibrahim said.

The official remained positive that visitor number targets would be met, even if the blockade continues beyond the short term.

“I believe that with the new strategy and expediting diversification and getting into new (tourism) markets, we can make up for the loss of the regional market we made in the last few months,” he added.

Diversifying

Even before the Gulf crisis hit, tourism numbers from other GCC countries fell 2 percent, according to QTA figures from the first quarter of this year.

Qatar’s tourism sector has previously relied heavily on visitors from Gulf countries. Last year, they accounted for 45 percent of the country’s 2.9 million visitors.

QTA/Twitter

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, Qatar is increasingly appealing to visitors from Europe and the Americas. In the first half of this year, the number of tourists from these countries increased by 10 and 7 percent respectively compared to the same period last year.

People traveling from non-Arab Asian countries were the next largest group of visitors. They saw a 4 percent increase to 352,469 from January to June 2017.

Looking ahead

Once established, the National Tourism Council will focus on strategic planning, attracting investment and regulation.

There will also be three new organizations that will develop resorts and tourist experiences, market these internationally and bring in more business events.

Visit Qatar/Twitter

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

If met, these targets will put Qatar on the way to reaching its previously announced goal  of attracting more than 7 million visitors a year to the country by 2030.

Thoughts?