Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is pulling out all the stops to improve the tourism industry’s performance amid slowdown by implementing various initiatives, says a QTA official.
“We are doing our best to increase the numbers and recover from the slowdown in the industry which has been a global trend,” Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer, QTA, told local media recently.
QTA’s Tourism Performance Summary for the First Half of 2016 released last month shows Qatar received 1.4 million visitors during the period, a drop of six percent from the same period last year.
“It is going to be very challenging to recover as we are now past mid-year. Hopefully, we are proceeding with many initiatives as you see we grow aggressively when it comes to cruise tourism; we are enhancing our visa processing system; we are opening up so when the global dynamics shift, we are ready to pick up the opportunity again and go back to growth mode,” said Al Ibrahim.
Tourist arrivals are expected to increase in the last quarter of the year as the 2016-2017 cruise season begins in October.
“As we said earlier, we are expecting 32 ships during the 2016-2017 season and around 50,000 passengers,” he said.
Al Ibrahim said QTA’s offices abroad are “doing well,” and the authority plans to open more offices overseas to attract more visitors to the country. “We are doing well. Qatar is positioning itself as a global destination, therefore we have offices in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, the US, Singapore and the GCC. We are increasing the number of offices and soon we will be announcing the opening of more of them,” he said, hinting more initiatives to be announced in the near future.
Al Ibrahim was speaking during the signing ceremony for an agreement between QTA and Qatar Airways and visa processing services provider VFS Global. The deal would establish an online visa processing system seen to be a fillip to the industry, increasing tourist arrivals and raising inbound tourism spending. The new system will make visa application convenient to visitors when implemented next year.
In addition, India, Russia and China — three of the most populous countries and emerging sources of tourism — will soon be on the list of countries with visa on arrival arrangements. “It is no secret that global tourism this year is facing pressures — economic- and security-related — which have impacted arrival figures and the hospitality sector’s performance across the region. Our strategy to develop tourism in Qatar is a long-term and we are determined to continue developing infrastructure necessary to support the growth of this sector,” he added.
Expanding tourism product offerings, enhancing the calendar of events through public and private partnership and raising the level of expertise of professionals are among ways QTA is exploring to develop the industry. “We are engaged with partners in the public and private sectors to develop new and varied tourism products, expand Qatar’s calendar of tourism festivals and events and enhance the level of expertise and quality among tourism sector professionals,” he added.
Author: Raynald C Rivera