Qatar has potential to be among top global leisure destinations-

November 24, 2021

Qatar is implementing many policies to become a leading country in terms of leisure tourism, and Doha has the potential to be one of the ‘future cities’ in the world, said Dr. Cristina Ortega Nuere, Chief Scientific and Operating Officer at the World Leisure Organization (WLO).

Speaking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the recently concluded Qatar Travel Mart (QTM) 2021, Nuere also said that the global tourism industry’s focus is now shifting towards experiential leisure travels, and ‘future cities’ will have to work with their local communities in order to successfully attract the next generation of travellers.

“Qatar is implementing many policies to become a leading country in terms of leisure. The country also has huge investments on culture and sports. Leisure has four dimensions including culture, sports, tourism, and recreation. And Qatar has a very good combination of these and can make synergies among different facilities of leisure. There is a good balance to show the local culture, as well as bringing in international contemporary art and sports events,” said Nuere.

She added that since the last century, countries have been using policies such as organising big sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, and other big cultural festivals and events to build an identity as one of the world’s ‘future cities’.

“Tourists will identify the name of the city with that big event. Also, the ‘future cities’ that will be world-famous landmarks are those that will invest on experiential leisure. Because people now want to have leisure experiences. And you will have to work with the local community. Because people want to have an experience like the locals,” Nuere added.

She went on to reiterate a global initiative by the UNESCO and National Geographic that guides tourists to unique cultural attractions and experiences, in partnership with the local communities.

She said: “They organise cultural tourist visits in collaboration with the locals in order to provide these memorable leisure experiences. Those cities are the ones that the new generation of tourists will choose to visit. It is not only just about the big events.

“Qatar has the potential to be one of the ‘future cities’. The country has a good policy to develop these great venues, to showcase Qatar’s culture, and to welcome international culture. It’s a tourist attraction. But you always have to also consider how to project the country’s image to the tourists. At the same time, without forgetting to increase the quality of life for the citizens. So this has to be balanced,” added Nuere.

It may be noted that the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has recently launched its ‘Host a Fan’ initiative, a first-of-its-kind programme that will link sports fans travelling to Qatar for major tournaments with locals and residents. Through the programme, tourists will be provided with ‘culturally-rich’ accommodation options and gain enriching experiences through the eyes of a ‘local’.

Globally, the travel and tourism industry is rebounding with major markets now rehiring. Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector is also seeing a rebound from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also speaking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the QTM 2021, Rick Enders, Cluster General Manager at JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha said the Company has already started hiring new staff at the beginning of the year.

“We actually are hiring. A lot of new associates within all departments, house keeping, food and beverage, chefs, and front office. Because business is really coming back. And it comes back quicker than before it was going to be. We already started at the beginning of the year. At the same time, we did not make redundancies throughout COVID. But of course a lot of our associates went home which I respect. So now we are in the process of basically getting everybody back into the hotel, and be ready for the FIFA Arab Cup in the very near future, and then of course next year for the World Cup Qatar 2022. Then we need more people on board to give people a memorable experience,” said Enders.

Further speaking about the role of technology in the future of travel and hospitality industry, he said: “A lot of it in the future will be over smart phones. That’s for sure. And we have a couple of things already. We have keyless entry, where you basically can already download your room key on your phone. So that will open up your door. And at the same time, we also have within that programme where you can do your pre-arrivals over the phone. You can also start chatting already, like ‘I would like to have dinner here’, or ‘Can you organise me roses’, or ‘Can you order me tickets to the museum’. Travel will be back, and there is going to be more of it,” he added.

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