THE Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways work in tandem to promote the Gulf state, which is pouring $15 billion into the development of its tourism industry.
QTA chairman Akbar Al Baker is also CEO of the airline, which currently has major advertising campaigns on both BBC World television and CNN in which the symbiotic relationship of the two organisations, and their mutually-shared objectives are clearly shown. The BBC campaigns begin with scenes of the country and statements about its development before launching into a promotion of the airline and its services – obviously promoting the country and the carrier in one go.
“A place at the crossroads of the world, selected as host to the Asian Games in 2006 and a country with a fast-growing economy that continues to attract foreign investment – a destination for business and leisure travellers” is how it is described. “Let Qatar change you”. Qatar wants to develop its tourism; Qatar Airways wants to increase its network and the number of passengers it carries. With Doha as its hub, it’s apparent then that there will be an increasing number of the airline’s transit passengers passing through the country – a great opportunity for stopovers and an additional way to encourage more visitors.
The airline, like the QTA, always has a strong presence at the major international travel fairs and the country is also being promoted through QTA offices overseas – usually in cities served by Qatar Airways and in countries that already have tourists visiting Doha or transiting Qatar. The nature of those offices is, however, currently under review, according to QTA officials.
The first offices to be established were in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and Russia, with the QTA looking at other possible locations. But the decision was also taken to handle marketing in the Middle East region from Qatar – at least in the initial stages. Rather than set up those overseas tourism bureaux itself, QTA opted for deals with local organisations. The UK office, for example, was first handled through a British PR agency; but the Authority has now made the decision that all overseas tourism board offices should be much more tightly linked to the QTA itself – a move that can only be positive and ensure that more extensive, more detailed, information is made available to potential travellers and that staff are in a better position to answer questions.
In considering new locations for tourism board offices, QTA officials say they first look at the Qatar Airways network. “To develop a market, there has to be an effective transportation network linking the two countries. Our first priority is those potential markets served by Qatar Airways as our national carrier. We then look at other potential markets with direct flights or good connections. We obviously don’t exclude markets simply because they are, at present, only served by other airlines.”