The Business Year

Hassan Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim

QATAR - Tourism

Tour de Force

Chief Tourism Development Officer, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA)

Bio

Hassan leads the Tourism Development Sector of QTA, the government body responsible for the planning, regulation, and promotion of tourism in Qatar. Prior to joining QTA in 2012, Hassan served in several senior positions in the Marketing and Project Management divisions of RasGas. He holds a BEng in Computer Engineering, an MSc in Project Management, and is currently pursuing an EMBA degree at HEC Paris.

How would you describe the performance of Qatar’s tourism sector and its role in Qatar’s economy as a whole? Tourism is a major catalyst for Qatar’s socio-economic growth. Not only […]

How would you describe the performance of Qatar’s tourism sector and its role in Qatar’s economy as a whole?

Tourism is a major catalyst for Qatar’s socio-economic growth. Not only does it contribute to expanding the economy, attracting investors, and creating jobs, it also supports the development of a national brand on the international stage, encouraging intellectual dialogue and the breaking down of barriers between peoples around the world. In a country heavily reliant on its hydrocarbon wealth, tourism is playing a pivotal role in diversifying Qatar’s economy, in turn shielding it from market infatuations that can impact its growth and sustainability in the long term. Last year once again showed promising results for Qatar’s tourism sector. The numbers of both international and regional visitors have been on the rise. Visitors’ numbers from the neighboring GCC markets have increased. This follows the establishment of QTA’s GCC representative office there in 2014 and reflects the various trade and consumer-centric joint promotions, the Qatar annual calendar of festivals, events, and other initiatives launched to attract visitors. Moreover, the country witnessed a rise in overall hotel occupancy due to the various events, festivals, and conferences taking place. All in all, these positive results put Qatar on track in helping it achieve its goal of 7 million visitors by 2030.

What is your view on the growth potential of the MICE sector with the development of state-of-the-art facilities that Qatar offers?

Qatar is solidly carving for itself a place on the global map as a premium destination for business events. With the country’s plans to increase the number of visitors by 20% within the next five years, we believe that developing a strong business events sector will help the country achieve these numbers, and will enhance Qatar’s ability to develop a sustainable tourism sector. In 2015, the number of exhibitions rose by 40% with Qatar hosting 50 exhibitions in different sectors including fashion, real estate, education, and medicine. We expect another rise in the number of exhibition to reach 85 exhibitions and a rise in visitors by 5% in the coming year. The success that the business events sector has been enjoying is due to the luxurious, first-class, state-of-the-art venues available in Qatar. In the coming months, the new Doha Exhibition center will be opening its doors to all event organizers and will host its first event in November 2015. These numbers show us that our strategy to triple the number of visitors to Qatar by 2030 is well underway and that 2016 will see more efforts en route to achieving this aim.

How would you describe QTA’s strategic approach toward attracting international visitors and which regions of the world pose the most opportunity for growth?

The guiding principle behind Qatar’s tourism development strategy is quality, authenticity, and sustainability. We place top priority on ensuring that tourism growth is fully compatible with Qatar’s cultural, social, and environmental integrity. We aim to build on our traditional strengths in the GCC leisure market and in business tourism, while placing increased emphasis on diversifying into new areas, with a focus on the major European source markets such as the UK, Germany, France, and Italy. That said, we will also continue to focus on the rapidly emerging markets of China, the Far East, and India, and have plans to penetrate these regions within the coming years. To complement our market focus, we are mindful of specific segments that cross-geographical boundaries as identified in Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. A major target group, namely those that embrace sophisticated, experienced travelers actively seeking new cultural experiences and families, whether from neighboring countries or overseas, are strategically considered in all areas of tourism development. We remain interested in niche markets including special sports tourism, culture, and education. Qatar’s Aspire Zone has an outstanding infrastructure for all types of sports-related tourism, including winter training camps and pre-tournament coaching and team building initiatives.

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