Luxury travel reconvenes

The luxury travel industry celebrated 20 years of International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Cannes in December last year,
with Qatar and Saudi Arabia making their show debuts

Qatar and Saudi Arabia made their show debuts at the recently concluded ILTM Cannes 2021, the global flagship event for the ILTM Portfolio, as it celebrated its 20th anniversary. The event, which brought together luxury travel professionals from 73 countries with over 1,300 luxury travel suppliers, facilitated a week of dedicated one-to-one meetings – over 50,000 in total. 

With high-level safety precautions in place, the event was a successful live reunion for industry professionals from around the world, as well as catalyst for new business connections in luxury travel.

ILTM Portfolio Director Alison Gilmore commented on the success of the week’s events: “We are so proud of the role ILTM 2021 has played in giving the global luxury travel industry the live event so desperately needed. The love of travel is still as real as it ever was – so many reunions, so many introductions and so many real human connections with so much emotion.”



As part of ‘Qatar Tourism Strategy 2030’, the GCC country has added a variety of exciting experiences, including a wave of new luxury hotels, theme parks, shops and major leisure projects in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Over 100 new hotels and serviced apartments are currently under construction in the country. Some of the new properties include a Raffles Hotel and Fairmont Hotel and Resort at Katara Towers, Rosewood Doha and the St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island.

Chief Operating Officer of Qatar Tourism, Berthold Trenkel, said: “We are continuing to expand our tourism offering and are excited to introduce guests to the best of Qatari hospitality. In 2019, we saw over two million visitors to Qatar and we hope to see similar growth trends now that we are welcoming visitors back to the country again.

“We are now less than one year until the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, so now is the perfect time in visit Qatar. Qatar is an accessible introduction to the Middle East, blending cosmopolitan modernity and beautiful landscapes with Arabic traditions, cuisines, and cultures. We have a rich cultural heritage, luxury five star hotels and resorts, incredible outdoor activities, beaches and museums and cultural landmarks, that are waiting to be discovered.”

Qatar will also welcome major tourism projects including Place Vendome, a shopping mall boasting 580 retail outlets, two five-star hotels and entertainment zones, West Bay North Beach project with six beaches, restaurants and outdoor activities and Qetaifan Island North, set to be the first entertainment island in Qatar with five star hotels and resorts, beach clubs and water parks.

A streamlined set of measures designed to make travelling to Qatar as easy as possible, while maintaining the necessary precautions to continue to protect against the spread of Covid-19, have been implemented. Qatar was ranked the third safest country in the world for its management and prevention of Covid-19 outbreaks by Global Finance in 2021 and has carried out a successful vaccination programme with over 85 per cent of the population fully vaccinated as of December 6, 2021. 

The “Qatar Clean” programme, launched in partnership with The Ministry of Public Health, enforces the highest standards in hygiene and cleanliness, with rigorous procedures in place to ensure the safety of customers. With 100 per cent of Qatar Tourism-licensed hotels ‘Qatar Clean’ certified, the programme is being expanded to restaurants and rolled out to other sectors including transport, retail, and culture.

The measures include social distancing, frequent sanitisation of surfaces, and touchless payments, to ensure a safe experience in hotels, shopping malls, and the country’s health clubs and salons.


Representing Saudi Arabia at the most iconic luxury event in the annual tourism calendar were key partners from across the local ecosystem.

“Saudi is a young tourism destination, and part of our leisure luxury offering is the exclusivity of an unexplored destination, strengthened by our emphasis on regenerative tourism for travellers wanting to discover and do good,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO at Saudi Tourism Authority.

Visitors to ILTM’s stand experienced the warmth of Saudi hospitality first-hand, with Saudi students from Europe present on the stand to bring to life the core of the Saudi offering.

Despite the challenge of the pandemic, Saudi’s tourism sector has witnessed strong growth over the past eighteen months. Domestic tourism in the country saw a 96 per cent increase in travel following extensive investment, the development of exciting new tourism offers and the attraction of new DMCs to the market.

As the country rolls out a comprehensive programme of lifestyle and entertainment events, the focus is now on converting the significant market interest into tangible visitor numbers.