Muscat: Qatar welcomed 88,891 visitors from Oman between January and November 2016, according to a senior official of Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).
In an interview with Times of Oman, the official said that the neighboring GCC countries - including Oman - contribute nearly half visitors (1.3 million) of all of Qatar’s of a total 2.6 million visitors during the period from January to November 2016. “We anticipate a continuation of this trend in 2017,” the official said.
Joe Rajadurai, Country Manager Oman, Qatar Airways said they operate five flights a day to Muscat and two flights a day to Salalah from Hamad International Airport, Doha, the capital city of Qatar. “The Qatari government is enhancing the tourism sector’s ability so we hope that more people will fly to Qatar this year,” he said.
QTA said that they are targeting 7 million visitor arrivals annually by 2030, and a total contribution of 9.7 per cent by tourism to the country’s non-hydrocarbon GDP. “The Qatari government has already invested $200 billion in infrastructure projects in support of this strategy. The full implementation of the strategy’s projects and programs requires a total investment of $40-45 billion in tourism products, hotels and resorts and other services. QTA is working closely with the government authorities to facilitate foreign investment, giving investors that set up companies in Qatar now a rare competitive edge to be among the first to start up in a fast growing market with few players as yet,” the official said.
To promote Qatar Tourism in Oman, the official said: “A big part of QTA’s role is to enhance the tourism sector’s ability to reach out directly to target audiences. We do this through a growing network of international offices that bolster the country’s global presence in key markets. To reach out to the the GCC region, we have established an office in Riyadh which is responsible for promoting Qatar in neighbouring markets, including Oman.
“To ensure our priority markets, such as Oman, are aware of the country’s diverse offerings, the office facilitates many of our promotional activities, such as road shows, in-mall activations, advertising campaigns and familiarisation trips to Qatar.
“To bolster these efforts, QTA also has an innovative “Tawash” programme which trains hundreds of independent travel agents online on how to become ambassadors for the destination.
“In terms of attracting visitors from Oman to Qatar, there is a growing calendar of festivals and tourism events that attracts visitors from neighbouring countries, catering in particular to tourists looking for family-friendly entertainment in a familiar cultural setting. For example, in the lead up to the upcoming Shop Qatar festival which will run country-wide from January 7 to February 7, we are running an advertising campaign on both traditional and social media, as well as roadshows and special promotional activities in Oman to attract families to take part in the month-long festivities,” the official added.
Regarding why would people travel to Qatar when there are so many other places to visit, the official said: “Qatar’s heightened international profile has piqued the curiosity of all types of tourists - business, leisure, sports and family vacationers - to come and see the country’s offerings first hand. Everywhere they go, they will find an experience rooted in authenticity, where the nation’s cultural and natural gems are celebrated and carefully preserved.
“For our regional visitors, there is the added benefit of geographic proximity and ease of entry, which makes Qatar an ideal getaway destination – even if just for a weekend. The country’s rich and growing calendar of festivals and live entertainment have also proven to be a great pull factor for visitors from neighbouring countries looking for family-friendly entertainment in a familiar cultural setting,” the official added.