During an official visit to the country, where he met H.E. Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar and attended the launch of Qatar’s Tourism Strategy, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai welcomed the high priority afforded to the tourism sector in Qatar (22-25 February 2014).
“I would like to commend the government of Qatar for placing the tourism sector as a strategic pillar within its National Vision 2030. This is a clear recognition of the role tourism can play in boosting the image of Qatar, diversifying its economic base and driving sustainable development in the country”, said Mr. Rifai.
During an audience with H.E. Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, UNWTO Secretary-General presented him with the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism. The Open Letter reaffirms the commitment of a country to tourism as vital sector in the economy and the society.
Looking into the future, the Secretary-General said “According to UNWTO long term forecast, the Middle East is expected to triple its current volume of international tourism by 2030 when it will welcome 149 million international tourists a year. With an investment portfolio of US$ 17 billion over the next five years, including 130 new hotels, resorts and other leisure facilities, a new international airport, a new port with cruise passenger terminal, some 12 sports stadiums and various cultural iconic centres, Qatar is set to become a leading tourism destination and take full advantage of such growth.”
UNWTO has been collaborating with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) in the implementation of Qatar’s Tourism Strategy. Meeting with H.E. Issa Al Muhannadi, Chairman of QTA, Mr. Rifai discussed how to advance the collaboration between UNWTO and QTA in areas ranging from institution building, such as the legislative and organizational framework and the regulation of tourism activities, to the development of Qatar’s national system of tourism statistics.
Qatar’s tourism has grown significantly over recent years with the total number of international tourists visiting the country rising from less than half a million in 2000 to over one million today.