DestinationsQatar Tourism plans to keep travel agents in the loop on its touristic offerings through training programmes and fam trips.

Qatar's goals for the Fifa World Cup 2022 and beyond

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There's much more that Qatar can offer travellers than just this one major sports event.
There's much more that Qatar can offer travellers than just this one major sports event. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Leonid Andronov

Organisations and travel planners should start making preparations to send their staff, clients, prospects or even customers to the mega sporting event.

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If you have managed to miss the buzz about Qatar, that’s sure to change as the country takes center stage as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Taking place in November and December this year (instead of over the summer), the World Cup is the single biggest sporting event in the world, viewed by more than 3 billion people across the globe.

But Phillip Dickinson, vice president of international markets for Qatar Tourism, wants advisors to know that Qatar has much more to offer than this one event. Here, he provides an update on the destination as it gets ready for its global close-up.

How big of a push is Qatar making to grow tourism around the World Cup?

We had 2.1 million visitors in 2019, and our goal is to get to 6 or 7 million by 2030. As soon as we won the bid for the World Cup, it was clear we were going to have a lot of new hotels, attractions, infrastructure and other tourism products to offer. We’re going to go from about 24,000 hotel rooms to more than 50,000.

We’re also blessed with one of the world’s best airlines and the world’s best airport, flying from 173 gateways globally — 14 of which are stateside — so we have great airlift. I think our goal is attainable, in part, because we had 40 million people transit through Qatar in 2019. So, if we even get a fraction of those travellers to stop and spend some time in the country, we can easily increase our visitation.

What are your plans for promoting the country?

We plan to be very active with consumer awareness campaigns to help answer questions and address some of the misconceptions people have about the experience in the country. Of course, part of this campaign will be to capitalise on all the eyeballs around the world that will be focused on the World Cup.

We also plan to emphasise advisor education and training, including fam trips, so that the trade is fully up to date on what Qatar has to offer. We just launched a brand-new education platform for advisors that has a wide range of information modules and interactive content. This will help agents become official Qatar Specialists. As an added bonus, travel advisors who complete the training by the end of August 2022 will be entered into a drawing to win two free tickets to Doha on Qatar Airways (select dates), three complimentary nights' hotel stay, future fam trip opportunities and sponsored jersey giveaways with the various sports teams that Qatar Airways sponsors, including The Brooklyn Nets, Boca Juniors and more.

Also, we’ve invested a lot in our website, so that’s another good resource, and we’re working with a lot of the top tour operators in the industry.

Phillip Dickinson says that Qatar has more in store for travel agents to package for their clients.
Phillip Dickinson says that Qatar has more in store for travel agents to package for their clients. Photo Credit: Qatar Tourism

How does Qatar stand out when compared to other destinations in the region?

The pitch for Qatar is “where tradition meets modernity.” Unlike some other destinations in the region, visitors to the country really get to understand and experience the richness of the culture. If you go to the local souk (market), the majority of the shoppers are locals — it’s not created for tourists. And everyone is very welcoming and happy to have visitors. It’s just part of the culture.

There are also world-class hotels, museums, shopping malls and more. We have just about every luxury hotel brand represented in the country, and there is significant value for the cost when you compare room sizes to US or European hotels. We also have a very strong focus on wellness and adventure activities, with some incredible resorts in the desert.

What are the best opportunities for advisors looking to sell Qatar?

Whether clients are travelling to Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent or elsewhere, [visiting Qatar is] a great way to break up a trip and add to a vacation.

The destination’s geographical location makes it possible to reach all continents via nonstop flights, and Qatar Airways is a leader in stopover opportunities. Hotel stays are even subsidised by Qatar Tourism in many cases, which lowers the price point to encourage people to visit the country.

Source: TravelAge West

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