Spotlight on Qatar at international ‘Tourism in Tomorrow’s World’ Conference
• UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai praises growth of Qatar’s sustainable tourism with its development of a National strategy
Professor Robert Coelen, Executive Dean of Stenden University Qatar, predicts explosion of Asia Pacific middle class to be the biggest driver in global tourism and impact Qatar’s tourism offering
Doha, Qatar; Sunday 23rd February 2014: The first tourism conference of its kind in Qatar - Tourism in Tomorrow’s World, under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior – opened today (Sunday) with keynote addresses from Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman H.E. Issa Al Mohannadi and United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai. They welcomed Qatar’s focus on the sustainable development of tourism as part of a National Tourism Strategy that is in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Organized by Stenden University Qatar in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), the two-day conference at Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel featured top international tourism experts and industry professionals. The 250 delegates included delegations of government Ministers from GCC countries including Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE as well as Iraq, and the Arab League. Dutch Ambassador HE Yvette van Eechoud was also present for the opening addresses, alongside Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani and senior figures from conference sponsors Katara Hospitality, Beverly Hills Real Estate and Qatar Museums Authority. Two students from Stenden University Qatar, Najla Al-Thani and Mohammed Saruf, presided as MCs.
HE Issa Al Mohannadi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, opened the conference stressing Qatar’s commitment to developing tourism and hospitality in a sustainable way. He highlighted the development of Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector – one of the fastest-growing in the world, with a target of welcoming more than seven million tourists a year to the state - a seven-fold increase in current tourist numbers. This, he said, was a cornerstone of the QTA’s National Tourism Strategy, which was announced last night (Sunday).
Explaining the need for a tourism strategy, H.E. Al Mohannadi said: “We must be well-prepared to develop a post-carbon economy. Tourism is an untapped resource. Turning Qatar towards a tourism economy is the first step after oil and gas.
“The world is changing. We must open up our hearts and minds. We must invite people to our country so we can learn from them and they can learn from us. Tourism is the gateway to the world. Focusing on tourism will also enable us to improve our infrastructure and visitor facilities and services.”
And stressing the importance of Qatar’s rich culture, heritage and history, H.E. Al Mohannadi added: “Qatar can offer an authentic tourist experience as a unique global destination which prides itself on its cultural heritage.”
In his keynote speech, UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai outlined significant trends in global tourism, and the increasingly important role Qatar will play in regional and international tourism. He highlighted the rise in the number of global travelers - which exceeded 1billion for the first time in 2013, a growth of 5% on the previous year, with predictions for the number of international travelers in 2030 to be 1.8billion people. The Middle East had seen significant growth of tourism – from 24million travelers in 2000 to 150mililon expected by 2030. Qatar alone has tripled its number of international travelers in the last decade, he said.
Dr Rifai stressed: “No longer the preserve of the wealthy, today everybody has the right to travel. Travel is not just a need. It is a human right.”
Underlining the importance of sustainable travel, Dr Rifai said: “Social, economic and environmental sustainability is very important. We have to meet the needs of tourists while protecting our capital – our national and cultural heritage, for generations to come.”
He welcomed QTA’s National Tourism Strategy saying: “Qatar is a good example of how you take tourism and make it the national priority. Without a national policy, tourism cannot progress. Tourism is the oil that never runs out.”
In his address, Professor Robert Coelen, Executive Dean of Stenden University Qatar, spoke of the need for more academic research to understand the current tourism environment and to help Qatar – and the region – plan for the future. He said: “We need to establish a local base of academic talent to focus on research that can steer tourist developments. Qatar must move from being a knowledge consumer to become a cutting-edge knowledge producer in economically important sectors.”
“2030 will be a very different world. A key factor fuelling the significant increase in number of international travelers is the rising middle class, particularly in China. If we are developing infrastructure, systems and ways of moving forwards, we have to think about what this world will be like.”
Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of Al Faisal Holding and the patron of Stenden University Qatar, and Leendert Klaasen, President of Stenden University in The Netherlands gave words of welcome.
During the two days of the conference, speakers will examine future trends in tourism, in the region and globally, and the legacy of major international events. Qatar’s focus on socially responsible travel and sustainability is borne out by its newest eco-tourism tours of wild life habitats and mangroves and bird-watching of some 17 species in the wetlands, all an essential part of the nation’s latest appeal to today’s visitors.
About Stenden University Qatar:
Stenden University Qatar (SUQ) is the region’s only vocational hospitality and international business management college and the leading institution for hospitality and tourism training in the Gulf.
Stenden University Qatar has been in operation under the patronage of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani since 2000. It educates and prepares first rate graduates to lead international hospitality, tourism and business through its four-year Bachelor programme in Business Administration, with majors in International Tourism Management and International Hospitality Management. These are taught by an international faculty from more than 20 countries to students representing more than 40 different nationalities.
The university’s highly-acclaimed Problem Based Learning (PBL) teaching methods foster independent active learning to ensure students are fully equipped to work in the industry, having experienced both theory and practice. This approach ensures SUQ students have the confidence and ability to lead group discussions and the skills and know-how to work in the best hospitality and tourism organisations in the world. Many of SUQ’s graduates also end up working in the banking, finance, and insurance industries. Their ability to understand true customer focus makes them desirable employees.
International learning is key to the Stenden philosophy. Students spend time in Stenden campuses abroad as well as in professional learning companies, gaining valuable work experience in the real world. SUQ aims not merely to teach its students but to cultivate an open mind that is curious about the world around them. The calibre of graduates is reflected in the fact that all SUQ graduates are 98% employed in less than four months after they graduate.
About Qatar Tourism Authority:
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) manages Qatar’s burgeoning tourism industry and develop it through establishing high profile international and local exhibitions as successful annual calendar events in Qatar.
QTA’s mission is to promote Qatar as a world-class tourism destination for business, leisure, culture, education and sport. Its role is to showcase the country’s unique cultural heritage and highlight its tourist attractions.
Acknowledged as the fastest growing economy in the world, Qatar has taken its place on the world stage by hosting global sporting events such as the upcoming 2022 World Cup. As a world class business hub Qatar is where visitors can also enjoy some of the finest hospitality in the world with uber luxury leisure facilities and abundant tourist activities.