Qatar accelerates for FIFA and beyond

Some 100 hotels will open doors in Qatar this year, notable brands among them are Waldorf Astoria, Raffles, Fairmont, Rixos, Rosewood, St. Regis and The Ned Doha

Qatar aims to be the fastest growing destination in the Middle East for international visitors by 2030. With an upcoming focus on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the state has announced an ambitious tourism strategy to triple the number of visitors to 6 million by 2030.

TTN spoke to Berthold Trenkel, Chief Operating Office at Qatar Tourism, for more. “Qatar is a prime destination for visitors in the region, with multiple access points from land, air and sea. With a focus on delivering attractions and experiences that reflect the country’s deep customs and traditions, we believe there are a host of experiences to enjoy from arts and culture, sports, and more,” he says.

Qatar has seen a host of new openings in recent months, with the showstopping Place Vendôme opening its doors to the public. Qatar Tourism maintains an active calendar of events throughout the year with world-class ballets and leading artists from the region having recently staged performances.

Qatar Tourism has just wrapped up its Eid in Qatar festival, which saw the region’s first giant balloon parade delight crowds along the Doha Corniche, home to the city’s iconic skyline. Later this year, numerous international hotel brands and shopping destinations are anticipated to open. Of note is Printemps, which will mark the Parisienne’s brand’s first venture outside of France.

Give or take a few, there are some 100 hotels that will open doors in Qatar this year in the third and fourth quarters. Everything from Waldorf Astoria, Raffles, Fairmont, Rixos, Rosewood, St. Regis at the Pearl to Qetaifan Island North featuring entertainment attractions for the whole family will open this year. “The one that I am waiting for is The Ned Doha,” Trenkel tells us.

In its commitment to lead the sector and work towards its tourism strategy, Qatar will launch a new Qatar Specialist learning programme in the coming months. Designed for global trade travel partners, the programme will offer an immersive, online experience with interactive content. Completing the programme will allow partners to become certified Qatar Specialists.

“Tawash – the Qatar Specialist Programme provides all travel professionals and partners with the opportunity to learn about and promote Qatar as a compelling destination. This programme takes a closer look at the history, culture, traditions, and experiences Qatar has to offer visitors. This destination training program comprises of nine modules, each focusing on a particular aspect of Qatar’s tourism offering. Conducted entirely online, the programme allows participants flexibility, letting them complete each module at their own pace.

“This is a multi-million dollar investment, with the programme being upgraded over the pandemic and a much larger team of e-learning professionals and online training experts.”

But the biggest question everyone asks of Qatar Tourism is its readiness for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Trenkel tells us that there are four pillars he focuses on for the mega event. The first is the stadiums, he says, and seven are ready and have been functioning well. The second is public infrastructure: while roads are still being constructed, the metro opened in 2019 and has been functioning since. Pillar three is the hotels. “Many hotels have been under construction in Qatar and Covid-19 delayed some of these projects, because it didn’t make sense for the hotels to finish and rush because the business or the travel environment wasn’t right for them.”

The fourth element is the support structure and everything that goes around the World Cup, such as building fan zones, any activations etc. These will come between now and the tournament, Trenkels tells us.