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27 Sep 2017 – 14:27
DOHA: Qatar Airways will continue flying to Erbil in Kurdish northern Iraq as long as its airspace remains open, the carrier’s chief executive said on Wednesday.
“As far as I am concerned, I only know that we are operating and that we will continue operating as long as the airways are open and that we can transport our passengers safely,” Akbar Al Baker told reporters at a tourism industry event in Doha.
Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA) said earlier on Wednesday it would suspend flights to and from Erbil airport citing an Iraqi government decision to suspend international flights.
Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniya are continuing as scheduled, the company said on Wednesday, adding that it had received no official notification that the two airports in Kurdish northern Iraq are being shut to international traffic.
27 Sep 2017 – 15:34
Doha: Qatar has launched the Next Chapter of its National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, which charts the next five years of the tourism sector’s growth in Qatar.
The Next Chapter introduces a tourism blueprint for the country, outlining how this positioning will come to life over the next five years. This blueprint identifies six geographic zones across the country and ties each zone to tourism themes based on the area’s geographic characteristics and natural assets.
Local and international investors will be invited to develop tourism products and services in each geographic zone, in line with its proposed theme.
The bold and transformative plan was announced by H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, at the UNWTO’s official celebration of World Tourism Day, which is being hosted this year in Doha.
The PM announced that in the coming months, the sector’s governance will be reorganised around a new National Tourism Council that is empowered to focus and integrate the efforts of key stakeholders and facilitators in ways that will provide clarity, direction, and momentum for the tourism sector’s improvement and growth.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, explained: “Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have explored the most effective ways to build on the strong foundations that have been laid for the tourism sector since 2014, and to further develop the country’s existing cultural and natural assets.
As a result, the Next Chapter positions Qatar as a hub to discover – where cultural authenticity meets modernity, where the sand meets the sea, and where people of the world come together to experience unique offerings in culture, sports, business and family entertainment.”
In addition to the development of tourism products, the Next Chapter also details a plan to expand the country’s calendar of year-round tourism festivals and events, and to generate global interest in the country through expanding Qatar’s global network of tourism promotion offices.
Placing visitor experience at the heart of tourism development
Ensuring the best possible end-to-end experience for visitors to Qatar is at the heart of the Next Chapter. The strategy lays out plans and measures that are designed to ensure favourable experiences at every touch point of the visitor’s journey. These include programs to facilitate interactions and shared experiences between Qatar’s residents and its guests, as well as the creation of tourism experience units in all relevant public and private sector entities that will be tasked with ensuring that their organisations’ services are continuously enhanced to provide remarkable experiences for Qatar’s visitors.
The next five years will also witness intensive efforts to ensure infrastructure, both physical and digital, is in place to facilitate visitors’ journeys to, from and within Qatar. In addition, training programmes will be developed and provided to all government and private sector employees in tourist-facing jobs.
Establishing a new governance structure to enhance integration and enable development
To achieve the Next Chapter’s targets, Qatar’s leadership has announced a new governance structure for the tourism sector to coordinate, consolidate and focus the efforts of its key members and stakeholders. Qatar Tourism Authority will become the National Tourism Council, and will report to a Board of high-level representatives, chaired by the Prime Minister.
The Board will guide the overall development of the sector, monitor tourism sector performance, and ensure cross-sector collaboration and focus.
The Board of the National Tourism Council will also oversee three new entities that will be charged with developing large-scale tourism products and experiences, promoting the destination internationally, and consolidating the efforts of existing stakeholders in the business events sub-sector.
“The tourism sector is unique in its reliance on many ancillary sectors to succeed. Recognising the importance of close coordination, the Qatari government has endorsed a new governance structure that will empower the sector and help us work together to achieve greater results,” commented Al Ibrahim.
“This new structure also helps us to expand the functions of product development, international promotion, as well as the development of the business events sub-sector, all while ensuring they move forward with significant involvement and leadership from the private sector.”
He added that by putting new policies and structures in place, the Next Chapter aims to further develop important sector enablers, such as a supportive regulatory framework for tourism establishments, enhancing the ease of doing business in the sector, and additional visa facilitation measures to increase visitor access to Qatar.
The Next Chapter aims to attract 5.6 million visitors to Qatar annually by 2023, double the number which the country welcomed in 2016. It also aims to achieve a 72% occupancy rate across all hotel establishments, through a combination of increasing demand and diversifying the country’s tourist accommodation offering.
Also by 2023, the strategy aims to have increased tourism’s direct contribution to Qatar’s GDP from QAR 19.8 billion in 2016 to QAR 41.3 billion, representing a direct contribution to the GDP of 3.8% (compared to 3.5% in 2016).
Source : The Peninsula