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Tuesday, 31 December, 2019, 16 : 49 PM [IST]

‘Tourism is part of a wider strategy to diversify Qatar’s economy’

With a visa-free policy for nationals from 90 countries and an extensive route network of its national carrier, Qatar Airways, Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) is looking at enhancing business events visitations. Ahmed Al Obaidli, Director of Exhibitions, Qatar National Tourism Council in an interaction with Disha Shah Ghosh sheds light on their plans for the MICE sector, and the competitiveness of the destination, globally.

What was the rationale behind QNTC establishing a dedicated division for events?
Tourism is a priority sector for Qatar, and is part of a wider strategy to diversify Qatar's economy with greater participation from the private sector. The QNTC was created to enhance efficiency and ensure synergies between stakeholders across government and the private sector, and to facilitate the development of tourism products and promotion of the destination. A dedicated group focusing on the MICE sector reflects this priority. QNTC continues to forge ahead with plans to diversify visitor source markets and tourism products, with business events a priority tourism sub-sector for Qatar.

Q Which business sectors are your top sources for events?
We focus on attracting events which match Qatar's existing growth sectors, thereby creating more enriching BE experiences for business visitors while making significant contributions to the country's economic and intellectual landscapes.

Qatar's prioritisation of education, scientific research, and the arts helps raise the country's profile as a destination for scientists, researchers, and artists, who are looking not only for a meeting place, but also a place where they can share knowledge and gain new experiences.

Q Enumerate on your business events for 2020?
As host to more than 150 local, regional and international events annually, our country is equipped to accommodate the flurry of activity that comes with large-scale events.

Over the five-year period of 2014-2019, Qatar has won the rights to host 24 business events, bringing in over 10,000 visitors. By the end of 2019, Qatar will host a total of over 150 business events.

The destination also won the rights to host major business events to be held between 2019 and 2023.

  • 2019 - 6th World Congress • of the World Federation of Associations of Paediatric Surgeons (WOFAPS) – Held in November
  • 2019 - Infotech Software • Dealers Association (ISODA) – TS9 Business Edition Summit – Held in January/February
  • 2020 - International Society for • Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Regional (ISPCAN) Conference
  • 2020 - All Together Better • Health Conference (ATBH)
  • 2020 - ISOCARP World • Planning Congress
  • 2021 - AICR Congress (The • International Association for Deputy Managers and Front Office Managers of Luxury Hotels)
  • 2021 - Les Clefs d'Or • International Congress (The Association for Luxury Hotel Concierges)
  • 2021- SESTECH Sports • Conference and Expo
  • 2022 - Hosteling International • Conference (HI)
  • 2022- Financial Management • Association (FMA) Middle East Conference
  • 2023-The World Symposium • on Choral Music
Q What strategy has been chalked for Qatar to remain as a competitive proposition for business events compared to Gulf neighbours?
Qatar is the most open country in our region, and we welcome the world to experience a unique destination where cultural authenticity meets modernity. Visitors can experience offerings in business, sports, culture and family entertainment, rooted in tradition. The country's hospitality sector ranks first in the Middle East, according to the Guest Experience in the Middle East Report, released by hospitality and travel data providers Olery. With Qatar being listed in Forbes' top 15 places to visit in 2019 and NYT list of 2019 destinations, there has never been a better time to explore Qatar. According to Euromonitor 2018, Doha was ranked among the Top 100 City Destinations worldwide. In addition to its authentic tourism experiences, Qatar benefits from a high safety record, easy access, growing event management services, exhibition capacity of 98,000 square metres and an expanded transport network.

Q In terms of global pecking order, where does India rank?
India is a key source market for us, which we look forward to growing further by targeting more segments. In 2018, we had 400,661 visitors, representing a 20% growth in the number of Indian visitors to Qatar from the previous year. We are also home to a large expat population from India, so we have existing ties which we continue to nourish.

Qatar Airways, the award-winning national carrier, has 102 direct flights connecting 13 major cities in India to Doha to every week, making it easier than ever to travel between the two countries. An additional 100 flights per week connect Qatar and India via the Indian carriers IndiGo and Air India. This accessibility coupled with visa-free access to Indian nationals make it easier than ever for Indians to visit Qatar.
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