To diversify economy, Qatar strives to attract more tourists
Keeping in mind that oil and gas revenues won’t support Qatar forever, the country has been working to diversify its economy to meet future needs.
Tourism appears to be one part of that plan, with a senior official announcing yesterday that the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) aims to contribute some 3 percent to the country’s gross domestic product by 2030. Tourism currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation’s annual GDP.
According to Chairman Issa Mohammed Al Mohannadi, who spoke during a press conference yesterday, the “Qatar Tourism Sector Strategy 2030,” a plan outlining how QTA will reach its goals, will be released within the next two months.
If the 3 percent target is achieved, it’s likely to be a boon for the job market. Last year, 1.8 percent of all jobs – or some 19,900 people – in Qatar were in the tourism sector. By 2030, that number is expected to grow by 107,100, and represent some 5.3 percent of the total employment market.
A leisure destination?
In the past, Qatar has made no secret of the fact that, unlike Dubai, it does not want to attract low and mid income leisure tourists, focusing instead on business travel and high-end luxury retreats.
Al Mohannadi told the Peninsula that the business travel sector is responsible for a great deal of the tourism growth in Qatar – a deliberate strategy, he said, as “business tourism is far more lucrative than leisure tourism.”
He added, however, that leisure tourism is not being ignored, signaling an effort to introduce more “products” to sustain visitor numbers year-round.
According to the Peninsula, there’s also a plan to allow foreign investors to set up 100 percent-owned tourism businesses with no local sponsorship, a significant development for Qatar, which currently requires almost all businesses to have a local sponsor.
QTA figures released in February this year point to an increase in the number of leisure tourists, and demonstrate the incredible growth of the country’s hotel industry. Some 110 hotels were under construction last year alone.
New statistics released by the QTA concerning Eid al-Adha travel continue this trend, with 16 percent more tourists from GCC countries visiting Qatar this year compared to last. Visitors from outside the GCC increased by 7 percent.
To help improve Qatar’s appeal to tourists worldwide, the QTA launched “My Qatar,” this week, a competition that asks residents to explain how they think the country should be marketed. Those who submit their thoughts on a slogan and a new “brand logo” could win a luxury vacation within the country.