Experiential travel is driving tourism growth in Qatar as the country works towards its 2030 ambition to welcome 10 million visitors a year and generate US$17.8 billion in revenue – approximately 5.2 per cent of its GDP.
An inventory of 63,000 hotel rooms will help the cause and the creation of 98,000 jobs in the industry is seen as a boon for the economy. One example of experiential incentive travel in Qatar is the Souq Waqif in Doha which offers a local marketplace experience with small lanes, shops selling an array of Middle Eastern merchandise from spices and seasonal delicacies to perfumes, jewellery, clothing and handicrafts. Qatar will invest US$45 billion in new developments under the National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, of which US$ 2.3 billion has been earmarked for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The first step in the tourism roadmap is to achieve four million visitors annually by 2020.
Qatar is already the fastest growing destination in the region with 11.5 per cent growth over the last five years. Hammad International Airport in Doha saw a passenger traffic jump of 20 per cent in 2016, handling 37.3 million passengers, a leap of 7.3 million over the previous year. The national carrier, Qatar Airways, is partially responsible for triggering the growth with an addition of 14 new destinations as well as adding the world’s longest flight of 17 hours from Doha to Auckland. Qatar currently has 22,921 hotel rooms with another 15,956 rooms contracted to be built, representing a 69 per cent jump in room inventory. Arrivals in 2017 will benefit from the cruise season when 30 ships are expected to dock between October and April, generating about 55,000 visitors – a number expected to rise exponentially in the 2018-19 season.