Doha, capital of fast emerging tourism hotspot Qatar, has welcomed leading lights from the industry to the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World Conference.
The two day event, which will look at the challenges facing the tourism sector in the coming decades, is being held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at Renaissance Doha City Centre Hotel.
The conference will address issues in respect of the sustainable development of major infrastructure, the management of hospitality in the light of challenging circumstances, and aspects of a changing world with people who demand high quality hospitality and tourism resources.
What is the way forward? The speakers at this conference will share their views and thoughts on this exciting time.
Katara Hospitality, voted World’s Leading Hospitality Company by the World Travel Awards, will be the diamond sponsor of the conference.
The organisation’s chief operating officer, Christopher Knable, will deliver a keynote speech on the theme of hotel development in Qatar – a key factor for the emerging hospitality and tourism hub of the region.
There are presently 81 hotels currently operating in the country and another 110 under construction, with some of the most prestigious – including La Cigale, St. Regis Doha and W Doha Hotel & Residences - have also been recognised by the World Travel Awards.
With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil now just a few months away, Qatar’s role as host of the 2022 World Cup will also come under discussion.
Other speakers from Qatar and beyond will address crucial issues of travel and tourism now and in the future, particularly examining key global trends and how these may influence the development of hospitality in Qatar and the wider Gulf region.
Katara Hospitality chief executive Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla celebrates at the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2013 in Doha
Qatar Tourism Authority
Organised by Stenden University Qatar in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority, the conference will feature top international tourism authorities and industry professionals including QTA chairman Issa Al Mohannadi who will be revealing the strategy for development of Qatar as a world-class tourism destination.
UN World Tourism Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai will speak on developing sustainable tourism in line with the organisation’s globally recognised Code of Ethics for Tourism.
Government ministers from the GCC countries and the Arab League will also be attending the conference.
Qatar Museum Authority’s Cultural Tourism Unit will present its latest strategy for engaging visitors in the country’s rich culture and history.
To promote the state as an authentic, cultural tourism destination, the unit is opening up access to Qatar’s historical sites and archaeological gems.
Many of these – from Barzan Towers to UNESCO World Heritage Site Al Zubarah – have been recently restored with visitor centres and first-class facilities to welcome tourists and provide an insight to life in Qatar before the oil and gas boom.
Robert Coelen, vice president international and executive dean of Stenden University Qatar, said: “We are very grateful to QTA as partner of this dynamic conference and to Katara Hospitality, QMA Cultural Tourism and Beverly Hills for their sponsorship.
“This event is the first tourism powerhouse of its kind in the region and will feature international experts from the industry and academia, discussing what the future holds for global, regional and local travel, tourism and hospitality.
“They will look at the latest emerging trends and forecasts and how these may impact Qatar, the Gulf and the wider Middle East.
“These will serve to underline Qatar’s tourism strategy for the coming years.”
Cultural tourism will become increasingly important for Qatar
Key among the trends in regional tourism is the growth of Hala tourism, which a Zawya report estimates was worth $137 billion in 2012, excluding Hajj and Umrah.
Interestingly the GCC made up 31 per cent of the total Muslim travel expenditure.
A recent Amadeus Travel Report of the same year identified the burgeoning global population as a trend fuelling international travel, with the UN predicting the world population will be eight billion by 2025.
The report also sees globalisation of business as driving global travel, with the world economy expected to be 80 per cent bigger in 2020 than 2000.
According to the UN, there will be 250 million international migrants by 2050, marking a growing global migration trend.
The World Tourism Organisation predicts there will be an annual growth rate in Middle East travel alone of more than six per cent between 1995 and 2020, due to the globalization of travel and tourism.
The most remarkable trend being forecast is how tourism from the Asia-Pacific region will dramatically explode in the coming years due to rising affluence, especially in China where 40 per cent of the population is expected to enter the middle class in 2020.
It is predicted there will be three billion middle-class Asians by 2050 and their per capita income could rise 600 per cent in purchasing power parity equal to Western markets.
While growth in global travel will see the greatest expected growth between 2010 and 2015, the highest growth will be in China at 9.9 per cent.
Mintel also predicts significant growth in the travel industry, forecasting the total number of overseas trips by tourists from the world’s top travelling nations will double by 2020, from 433 million to 837 million.
MICE tourism is expected to be a growth area for the destination
Culture in Qatar
Professor Thomas Leisten, chief archaeology, architectural conservation and cultural tourism officer at QMA, who heads up cultural tourism, said: “The future belongs to cultural tourism.
“It is central to Qatar’s tourism plans, as the country appeals to its visitors through showing off its historical sites and archaeological gems in the best light.”
He added: “In fact, many more exciting restoration projects are on the horizon, like restoring the old Fish Souq in Al-Khor, built of local stone & traditional materials; and four villages including the old pearl-diving village Al-Mafyar.
“At the same time, we are also developing a stunning collection of high end venues for all types of events in the future, which will attract the MICE business sector.”
For more on the conference head over to the official website.
Visitors to Doha can find out all they need to know about this city on the Mobi website, which gives details of restaurants, bars, night clubs, hotels, shops, attractions in the city.
Virtual Doha will also let explorers take a look around before the step off the plane.
World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke welcomes guests to the 2013 Grand Final in Doha
Qatar Tourism Authority
Hosting the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World event is just the latest success for Qatar Tourism Authority, which has worked steadily to boost the profile of the destination around the world.
Qatar Tourism Authority’s mission is to plan, regulate, develop and promote sustainable tourism in Qatar with the aim of driving economic growth and social impact and enabling authentic experiences, business facilitation, and family-focused recreation.
Offering a range of products and services from culture and heritage, MICE, leisure, sport and education, Qatar’s tourism sector has a rich blend of attractions to suit all tourists.
For these efforts the organisation was last year recognised as World’s Leading Business Travel Destination at the prestigious World Travel Awards.
QTA picked up the award at during the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2013, held at La Cigale Hotel, Doha, where Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority, was the guest of honour.
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Issa M. Al Mohannadi, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, speaks to Breaking Travel News