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Qatar examines role of sports tourism in Doha

Qatar examines role of sports tourism in Doha

The Qatar Tourism Authority has hosted the second Sport & Tourism Forum on the sidelines of the fourth ASPIRE4SPORT event in Doha.

Held in partnership with the Qatar Olympic Committee the forum illuminated the impact of the tournaments and sporting events hosted and organised by the Qatar Olympic Committee and sports federations on tourism in Qatar.

The event also examined how to optimise the utilisation of sporting events and sports venues to attract tourists to Qatar, and to make sports venues more economically viable and sustainable.

The forum was held at Aspire Dome, in Doha, the venue for the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress & Exhibition.

The forum took place during the first of two conferences organised during the ASPIRE4SPORT event, focused on stadia design and infrastructure requirements of major sporting events like the swimming, handball, boxing, Paralympic athletics and cycling world championships.

The forum included four workshops, with specialists providing insight into the needs and development of the industry: venue commercialisation and utilisation, Qatar events and spectators, visa and visitor entry, and marketing, dales and distribution of sports-based travel.

The opening remarks of His Excellency Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee and His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, underlined Qatar’s vision for sports tourism, its mission to become the region’s sports hub and the tools that will help create opportunities in the sports tourism industry.

In his opening speech, HE Sheik Saoud highlighted the importance that sport represents, due to its popularity, in boosting the business of tourism and further contributing in achieving the Qatar National Vision 2030 objectives towards a sustainable and steady development.

Addressing the large number of participants in the forum, HE Sheik Saoud said:  “Your participation shows the enormous dynamics of the area of sport and tourism and I am convinced that by the end of this short forum we will have great results.

“Every necessary effort is to be made by all stakeholders in order to come up with concrete actions and initiatives allowing the best use of the many available opportunities and means to promote sports and tourism activities in the country and attract the general public as well as the various economic sectors that will all benefit from them.”

Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, spoke at the event

The joint Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar Olympic Committee Sports and Tourism Committee shed light on the relationship between sports and tourism in various aspects.

The committee also gave a presentation on its role in the promotion of tourism through sports, especially that Qatar plays host to international sporting events that draw visitors from across the region, including the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix, as well as the upcoming 2015 IHF Handball World Championships, the World Boxing Championships, the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Athletic World Championship and the 2016 Road World Championships.

His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi provided an overview of Qatar’s tourism sector approach, including the role sports plays as one of eight focus tourism products.

“Sport brings the world together in a way that few other things can. Fans from around the world gather for iconic games, such as the Olympics and the World Cup, as we saw here first hand with the Asian Games in 2006 and as we anticipate for 2022.

“In many ways, therefore, the sports and tourism sectors are integrally connected. Sports events, which average around 20 each quarter, many of which are international, are very much part of Qatar’s flourishing events sector hosting over 60 major conferences each year.”

The Middle East sports industry continues to flourish and offer vast opportunities to local, regional and international organisations.

With the country investing heavily in every sector of the economy, including sports, Qatar is seen as an investment hub that is attracting companies from all around the world to come and be part of the overall growth of the sports industry.

“Qatar’s tourism industry and society in general is witnessing rapid development, which has drawn attention from around the globe to our country,” added Al Mohannadi.

“Over the past decade, sports have played a significant role in driving attention, and will continue to do so in the next decade.

“We continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure that the tourism infrastructure and quality of experience exceed expectations for all visitors.”

Qatar has rapidly become the sports capital of the region due to its success at attracting international sports events.

Over the third quarter 2013, Qatar experienced increased tourism across all sectors.

GCC visitors increased by 16.6 per cent over the same period 2012, and international tourists increased by seven per cent.

QTA has an important role to play in developing a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar so that tourism becomes a significant factor as a part of the national economy.