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The BTN Interview: Ahmed Abdullah Al-Nuaimi, chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority

On the back of winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has pledged an investment of billions of dollars into its tourism infrastructure as it prepares to welcome an estimated 400,000 visitors for the games.

Ahmed Abdullah Al-Nuaimi, Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) talks to BTN about the ‘economic cycle’ that is taking place in Qatar as the tourist board pulls out all the stops to ensure the destination remains in the spotlight in the build up to this major sporting programme, with new hotels, conference facilities and a brand new airport all in the pipeline.

BTN: The profile of Qatar has skyrocketed in 2011, how do you see this continuing in 2012?

AA: The tourism industry is going to change in Qatar as a result of winning the 2022 World Cup which means all eyes will be on the region over the next ten years, especially Qatar – which means we expect tourism to grow really fast.

BTN: With the World Cup still 11 years away, how will you keep up the momentum?

AA: We have been developing so much infrastructure to continue the momentum over the next ten or eleven years. We are building a huge convention centres, we are bidding for huge events coming to Doha.

We are bidding for the 2020 Olympics and we are bidding for the 2017 World Athletic Championships and we are also bidding of other huge sporting events as well as conventions.

We are working in parallel with all the hotel expansion and developments in Doha by creating demand from visitors to come to Qatar.

BTN: One of the new convention centres has opened, will that be a great asset for Doha?

AA: Qatar National Convention Centre just opened and next year the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre we will be opening. Those will give us a push to host huge events up to 10,000 people at the same time. We are aiming to host several of those a year which will keep hotels busy with demand.

BTN: What is the appetite like among the people of Qatar for tourism?

AA: Everyone looks for tourism. Qatar works economically. This year has seen a growth of 20% which is continuing, so tourism for us has been good. Five years ago we had 2,500 rooms but today we have 13,000 rooms. We have 10,000 rooms coming on the books for development over the next few years.

We are going ahead and developing in this sector. We also have a new airport to accommodate 50 million people coming in through Qatar. We are targeting 5% of the
50 million people – which is 2.5 million coming to the country in addition to what we already have.

We are developing 80 to 100,000 rooms for the 2022 World Cup. So there is an economic cycle happening for the next eleven years.

BTN: Is Qatar Airways an important element of that?

AA: Qatar Airways is the strongest supporter of what is happening right now. Qatar Airways is a five star airline which flies to 100 destinations and continues to grow and offer more destinations. This is all in the hub of the country. We are working closely with them and creating packages for Qatar.

World Travel Awards Grand Final Ceremony

After a rigorous selection procedure, Qatar was chosen as the host of the WTA Grand Final Gala Ceremony, reflecting the Arabian nation’s rapid emergence as a tourism hotspot.

Qatar is recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Business Destination by the prestigious World Travel Awards.

Graham Cooke, president and founder, World Travel Awards, highlights how his organisation selects host destinations that are driving the industry to new heights through innovation and experimentation.

He said: “We are delighted to host our Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Qatar as it is such an exciting place to be right now with incredible opportunities within the luxury sector.

“Our Grand Final will see the winners of our five regional heats, who represent the cream of the global travel and tourism industry, compete head to head for the ultimate travel accolade.”

Ahmed Al Darwish, vice president sales and marketing, QTA, celebrates at the WTA Middle East Gala Ceremony 2011

For more information visit the official wesbite