The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) will be promoting its newly launched destination brand at this month’s ITB Berlin in Germany.
'The brand provides a striking and highly distinctive visual identity that makes Qatar stand out prominently from other regional and international destinations and will make a major contribution to raising international awareness of our country and its tourism product,' says QTA chief marketing and promotions officer Rashed Al Qurese.
First launched to great fanfare at the 2015 World Travel Market in London, the brand comprises a distinctly crafted word mark with specially designed typography, colour palettes and signature photography and videography.
It was developed to reflect and celebrate Qatar’s culture and the unique attributes and attractions.
'We see the new brand as an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to establish Qatar among the world’s top premium destinations. The brand will provide a strong, memorable and consistent visual signature which the international travel trade and consumers will increasingly come to associate with the top-class quality standards they can expect in Qatar,' Al Qurese says.
'Our aim is to build on Qatar’s growing success in the European market, both by making new trade contacts and by reinforcing our existing relationships with tour operators, travel agents and media,' he continues.
With Qatar’s tourism offering developing so rapidly, it is vital to keep its international partners fully informed and updated about the many new hotels, facilities and services that have come on stream since last the ITB, or are in the pipeline for 2016 and beyond, he says.
ITB Berlin will be held from March 9 to 13. The QTA has exhibited at the event almost every year, bringing together a strong representation of hotels, ground handlers and other tourism stakeholders. The QTA considers ITB to be one of the most important events of the year for showcasing its tourism industry in the international market.
The QTA’s plans are clearly set out in the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030. This provides the basic roadmap it follows in its year-to-year planning. The strategy calls for a major increase in visitor numbers from the present level of about 3 million a year to 7 to 9 million by 2030, together with the expansion of hotel accommodation and other facilities needed to cater to such a large increase.
This is more than just a matter of numbers. 'We are also focusing on diversifying our geographical source markets and on rebalancing our visitor profile in favour of upmarket leisure tourists and business events delegates,' Al Qurese says.
The QTA is also making good progress in developing its cruise business, generating increased interest from operators keen on including Doha on their regional itineraries.
To achieve its expansion goals, QTA will continue to reinforce its existing two-pronged strategy, on the one hand working to increase support for the destination from international travel trade, while at the same time promoting greater consumer awareness of Qatar and its attractions via the media.
Meanwhile, the total visitors to Qatar increased by a satisfactory 4 per cent to 2.93 million last year. This is nearly double the number in 2009, when the QTA was first established.
Europe accounted for 437,122 visitors in 2015, which also represented a 4 per cent increase over the previous year, with the UK (135,000), France (46,000) and Germany (39,000) ranking as Qatar’s largest source markets, Al Qurese says.
In the context of ITB, it may also be interesting to note that several of the smaller European markets recorded strong growth last year, including the Netherlands (up 14 per cent), Austria (up 9 per cent), Sweden (up 7 per cent) and Switzerland (up 6 per cent).
Good progress has been made in qualitative terms too. Qatar was ranked second in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the 2015 World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.
'We also scored highly on a global basis in several categories: 3rd for Business Environment, 2nd for Safety and Security, 14th for Human Resources and Labour Market and 19th for Price Competitiveness,' he says.
Qatar continues to develop very rapidly and the number of hotel rooms now comfortably exceeds 20,000, with new projects in the pipeline. Key projects that have come on stream over the past year or so include two major beachfront resorts, the Marsa Malaz Kempinski and Anatara Banana Island Resort, both just a stone’s throw from Doha city centre. New downtown hotels that have opened recently include the Shangri-La, Melia, Warwick, City Centre Rotana, Sapphire Plaza, Saraya Corniche, L’Etoile and Najd Boutique Hotel, amongst other.
On the infrastructure side, the recent opening of the new Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre promises to be a major asset in the further development of Qatar’s business events sector. It has 29,000 sq m of dedicated exhibition space, as well as extensive meetings facilities, right in the heart of Doha’s main West Bay business district.
Qatar’s growing reputation as a cultural destination is also set for a significant boost with the upcoming opening of the Qatar National Museum, an iconic architectural masterpiece currently under construction on Doha Corniche. Other key projects include the Doha Metro, scheduled to launch in 2019, and the further development of Qatar as a major aviation hub.
By K S Sreekumar
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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