Up to $45 billion will be allocated to develop Qatar’s tourism industry by 2030 as part of the National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) chairman Issa Al Mohannadi, it was reported.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World conference on Sunday, Al Mohannadi talked about tourism’s potential to fuel the country’s post-carbon economy.
“We must be well-prepared to develop a post-carbon economy,” he was quoted by The Peninsula Qatar as saying.
“Tourism is an untapped resource. Turning Qatar towards a tourism economy is the first step after oil and gas.”
Al Mohannadi said Qatar was committed to developing a sustainable tourism and hospitality sector with a target of more than seven million tourist arrivals by 2030 — a seven-fold increase on current numbers.
He said the strategy also aimed to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP from less than one percent to more than three percent by 2030. Employment in the sector is also hoped to increase from 25,000 in 2012 to 127,000 by 2030.
“The world is changing. We must open up our hearts and minds. We must invite people to our country so we can learn from them and they can learn from us,” he said.
Al Mohannadi said Qatar could offer an authentic tourist experience as a unique global destination which prided itself on its cultural heritage and an unparalleled mix of tourist spots.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation secretary-general Dr Taleb Rifai said global travellers exceeded one billion for the first time in 2012 with a forecast of 1.8 billion international travellers in 2030.
The Middle East had also seen significant growth of tourism – from 24 million travellers in 2000 to 52 million in 2013. It was expected to reach 150 million by 2030.
“No longer the preserve of the wealthy, today everybody has the right to travel. Travel is not just a need, it is a human right,” he said.
Professor Robert Coelen, executive dean of Stenden University Qatar, said more academic research was needed to understand the current tourism environment and help Qatar and the region plan for the future.
“We need to establish a local base of academic talent to focus on research that can steer tourist developments,” he was quoted as saying.
“Qatar must move from being a knowledge consumer to become a cutting-edge knowledge producer in economically important sectors.”