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Qatar Hosted World Tourism Day Celebrations

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Official World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations got underway in Qatar today for the very first time, held under the patronage of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

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Hundreds of tourism industry stakeholders from around the world flew to Doha to explore the significant role sustainable tourism plays in Qatar and worldwide.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, was among a host of esteemed speakers at the celebratory event, held at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel in Doha, and delivered the keynote speech on aviation’s role in building sustainable tourism.

In addition, H.E. Mr. Al Baker participated in a high level discussion alongside Ms. Anna Paolini, Director of the UNESCO Office in Doha, and numerous tourism ministers from around the world. The discussion was moderated by CNN International anchor Max Foster, and topics discussed included tourism as a job generator and the contribution the sector makes to wealth creation, investment, exports and jobs.

H.E. Mr. Al Baker said: “I am honoured to be here today to join the international community in celebrating the momentous occasion of World Tourism Day. As the national flag carrier of the State of Qatar, it is a tremendous privilege to have been able to open our doors to tourists from around the world in our 20 years of service, supporting tourism and the cultural and social benefits it brings with it.

"Qatar Airways proudly flies the flag of the State of Qatar to more than 150 destinations worldwide, bringing people to Doha from every corner of the globe via our award-winning, state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport. We are delighted to welcome people to discover our remarkable country for themselves and to experience its generous hospitality, unique culture and heritage. We have entered an exciting period for Qatar, and continue to take significant steps to boost tourism in our country. As an airline we are passionate about promoting Qatar as an attractive destination, for both leisure and business travellers.”

This year’s celebrations fall under the theme set by the The United Nations 70th General Assembly titled ‘'Sustainable Tourism - A Tool for Development,” and have been organised by Qatar Tourism Authority, with Katara Hospitality as Hospitality Partner, to increase awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value, and make tourism a positive change for good.

World Tourism Day comes at a time when Qatar’s tourism sector is experiencing exciting and monumental change. Last month, Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, Qatar Tourism Authority, and Qatar Airways launched visa-free entry to Qatar for citizens of more than 80 countries.

Last year it also introduced a 96-hour transit visa, which allowed passengers transiting at Hamad International Airport the option of leaving the airport and exploring the city for up to of 96 hours, as long as they had a return ticket. The growing demand for this will place Qatar amongst the world’s most popular destinations for long-haul transit visits.

Discover Qatar, a division set up by Qatar Airways to advance the development of Qatar as a premium tourist destination, has also reached millions of people around the world with engaging marketing and advertising campaigns to encourage and promote visa and holiday packages. As part of Discover Qatar, the airline recently launched ‘+Qatar’ in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar’s hospitality sector, a free transit visa and the offer of free 4-star and 5-star hotel stays for First, Business and Economy passengers stopping over in Qatar.

As part of Qatar Airways’ combined efforts to boost tourism in the country, the award-winning airline has accelerated its global expansion plans, and recently added a number of new destinations to its expanding global network, including Kyiv, Ukraine; Prague, Czech Republic; and Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

World Tourism Day is observed each year on 27 September as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), part of the United Nations (UN), looks to mark the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

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