Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, CEO of Qatar-based Katara Hospitality, a global hotel owner, developer and operator, tells GMR the ultimate success of the tourism industry in the GCC will depend upon additional factors:
Qatar is focussed on diversifying its economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbon, positioning itself as a pre-eminent tourism, leisure & entertainment destination. What more needs to be done to transform Qatar, and the GCC region more widely, into a must-see experiential destination?
The GCC is now regarded as a global hub for leisure, tourism, and entertainment. However, international standards are also moving head and the GCC needs to progress even more quickly to retain its reputation as a world-class destination.
Governments in the region are readying for large-scale public and private investment into tourism enablers including airports, theme parks, hotels, and transport infrastructure, setting a strong foundation to support the expected doubling of tourist arrivals over the next ten to twenty years.
More specifically, Qatar is a promising hospitality investment destination, with the Qatar Ministry of Economy and Commerce reporting income from tourists amounted to QAR18.3 billion in 2015, nine-times the QAR2.1 billion recorded in 2010. The Qatar Tourism Authority projects the sector’s contribution to the country’s economy will reach 5.2% by 2030, and make up almost 10% of Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon economy.
Qatar’s travel and tourism industry is forecast to grow strongly over the next 10 years and the country will see huge demand for hotel accommodation, with 4,000 new hotel rooms are reported to be required to meet FIFA World Cup capacity requirements and 21 hotels planned for construction by 2017.
In addition, the country’s young and growing population supports its domestic travel market as does the increasing mobility between GCC countries.
In my opinion, the key to a must-see experiential destination is to optimise the wide diversity of leisure and tourism assets in place already and those being built. The holistic management of Qatar with the rest of the GCC countries as a destination is crucial and requires close coordination between all the stakeholders, including state infrastructure, tourism authorities, hospitality owners and operators and destination management companies.
Businesses need to collaborate and develop partnerships to provide visitors with a seamless and effortless experience and a reason to visit and keep visiting this region.
Additionally, while the GCC overall already has in place or plans for many tourism enablers, the ultimate success of the industry will depend upon additional factors such as the quality of hotels, attractions, and entertainment offerings.
At Katara Hospitality, we are aligned with the values and objectives of the 2030 Qatar National Vision, which leads the country on a path of economic diversification and recognises the hospitality and tourism industry as one of the key drivers in implementing this vision. As the Qatari economy becomes more diversified, the contribution of the travel and hospitality sector will continue to increase.
I strongly believe the Gulf region, characterised by high rates of population growth, which combined with its increasing popularity as a tourist destination and global transport hub, presents an attractive investment proposition.
As the region’s hospitality market matures, we see value across a variety of asset classes, which gives us great confidence in the future of our industry both in the region and abroad.
What lies behind Qatar’s branding management and destination marketing strategies, to attract more tourists and travellers?
As governments across the region diversify their economies away from oil, many are now focusing on the hospitality and tourism sector as an alternative source of revenue.
Given the quality of its infrastructure and its strong leisure and sports segments, Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector is well placed to increase its share of a growing and competitive global market, that contribution is reflected in the hotel industry, where Qatar ranks third amongst countries in the Middle East with 7,315 hotel rooms under construction in 30 hotels since 2015.
The plans and projects that support the 2030 Qatar National Vision will not only increase hotel room supply, but also embrace the latest technological trends in the hotel sector.
As Qatar’s hospitality industry continues to evolve, hotels are now designed to be ‘smarter’. Hotels are now beginning to offer fresh innovative services, design, operating concepts, creating smart and inspiring places in tune with their environmental values as well as delivering an instinctive hotel management model that resonates with the next generation of travellers.
Qatar’s hospitality industry is witnessing unprecedented growth with Katara Hospitality’s local portfolio of iconic hotels a significant contributor to this expansion.
The Qatari government has a target of attracting seven million visitors annually by 2030 and a total of 124 hotel establishments are currently under construction to meet this demand, bringing about an additional 21,400 rooms, suites, and units when completed. Doha’s diverse hospitality industry is increasingly attracting an international audience as the city transforms into a destination of note, offering visitors a full spectrum of cultural and historical attractions.
Additionally, Qatar’s status as a “luxury destination” and its focus on quality highlights the country’s strategy of targeting the top-end of the tourist market. This innovative strategy has appeal to citizens from Qatar’s wealthy Gulf neighbours like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as affluent global visitors.
We are proud that since 2003 Katara Hospitality has evolved into a highly profitable hotel owner, developer and operator with ambitious plans for Qatar and other regions throughout the world. We enter 2017 with an unparalleled portfolio of luxury assets.
Our strategy remains consistent – investment in the highest quality hotels in Qatar while growing a collection of iconic hospitality assets globally. While our international aspirations grow, Qatar is, and will always be a priority for Katara, as we help shape the country of tomorrow. By promoting innovation, we can ensure that our future successes will be ones shared by all Qataris.