Qatar is looking to welcome 10 million visitors a year and generate $17.8 billion in tourism receipts by 2030, according to a new study.
Research released ahead of the Arabian Travel Market 2017, which takes place in Dubai on April 24-27, showed that Qatar will look to generate 5.2 percent of its GDP through tourism over the coming years, creating 98,000 jobs and managing an inventory of 63,000 hotel rooms.
Experiential tourism is forecast to drive the growth with Souq Waqif in Doha a prime example, offering several small shops lined along paths with an array of Middle Eastern merchandise, from spices and seasonal delicacies to perfumes, jewellery, clothing and handicrafts.
While the country’s culture and heritage remains of paramount importance, Qatar is also set to invest up to $45 billion in new developments under the National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, the research said.
These include $2.3 billion earmarked for 2022 World Cup facilities and $6.9 billion for transport infrastructure and associated projects.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “Qatar’s well-paced National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 will steadily boost tourism numbers over the coming decade, with the first milestone of four million visitors a year by 2020, well on track.
“The government, hotel operators, airlines, and other stakeholders, are now beginning to see a return on their investment into the country’s tourism sector. Once again we see the leisure industry driving growth in another major GCC destination and this is a trend we expect to continue at least until the end of the decade.”
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) predicts the tourism sector’s total economic contribution will reach QR81.2 billion by 2026, up from QR48.5 billion in 2015.
In 2015, investment in travel and tourism activity comprised 2.2 percent of the country’s total funding, with this expected to rise by 8.6 percent per annum to 2026.
Qatar is already the fastest growing destination in the region in terms of visitor arrivals, averaging 11.5 percent growth over the past five years, according to data from the QTA.
Arrivals in 2017 will also receive a boost from the cruise season, running to April. It is expected up to 30 ships will dock in Doha during the current season generating 55,000 visitors. This could reach as many as 250,000 passengers by the 2018/19 season.
In order to deal with the expected demand, Qatar currently has 22,921 hotel rooms with a further 15,956 rooms under contract, representing a 69 percent increase in total stock in the current pipeline.
The country posted a decline in hotel performance across all key metrics over 2016, as overall occupancy dropped 12.2 percent, average daily rates fell by 7.5 percent and revenue per available room fell by 18.8 percent.