Qatar has set its sights diversifying its global meetings offerings by investing more than US$20 billion in tourism-related infrastructure. This investment is directed towards boosting its MICE credentials.
The state has identified the meetings industry as a key pillar of economic diversification and growth. Keeping this in mind, the country is developing venues, hotels, world-class aviation facilities and high-profile events.
Targeting this key industry is the forthcoming Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel and Meetings (GIBTM). The event is scheduled to takes place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 24-26 March 2014.
“Qatar’s position as a convention destination of growing global prowess is evident having moved up 49 places to reach 111th position in the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) league,” noted Lois Hall, GIBTM exhibition manager.
“A multi-billion dollar investment plan earmarked for tourism-related projects will surely promote Qatar further up the rankings and attract interest of global meeting planners,” she added.
Qatar’s travel and tourism sector currently contributes US$3.4 billion to GDP directly, the equivalent to 1.8% of economic activity, according to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), but the industry’s total contribution (direct and indirect) is nearer US$13 billion or 6.7% of GDP. The WTTC anticipates sector growth of 7.1% in 2013 and an annual average of 4% growth between 2013 and 2023.
The destination is already skewed heavily towards meetings business given the industry accounted for 72% of all visitors to the state in 2011, according to Oxford Economics, plus the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has confirmed the MICE segment is “by far the largest piece of the tourism pie”.
Infrastructure developments designed to drive more business visitors to Qatar are wide-ranging and include the US$15 billion Hamad International Airport (formerly known as New Doha International Airport), with the first phase set to open by the end of the year and the facility expected to be fully operational by 2020.
In addition, US$25 bn been has allocated for railway construction and a further six bn has been allotted for a new Doha port project to include a cruise ship terminal. The new Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre will provide 29,000 square metres of conference space when it opens in Q1, 2014, plus 110 hotels are under construction in Qatar, adding a further 19,931 rooms to the current 13,407 room inventory. Further new hotel and venue announcements are anticipated as Qatar gears up to stage– the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. To cater to the event, Qatar will build nine new stadiums and renovate three, with the 12 venues divided among seven host cities (Doha, Al-Daayen, Al-Khor, Al-Rayyan, Al-Shamal, Al-Wakrah and Umm Slal).