By Staff writer
Projects totalling nearly $8.5bn are currently underway to set Qatar up as a major tourism destination
More than $2.5 billion worth of contracts were awarded in Qatar's tourism sector during 2014 as the Gulf state looks to build more hotels in the run-up to hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2020.
Arabian Travel Market's 2015 roadshow series arrived in Qatar on Wednesday to meet with key industry players and highlight the country's healthy growth ahead of the show in May.
Qatar is being represented at ATM 2015 by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Qatar Airways, Al Rayyan Hospitality, and Katara Hospitality at a dedicated Qatar stand, a statement said.
Projects totalling $8.48 billion are currently underway that will set Qatar up as a major tourist and venue attraction, including Doha Festival City, Doha Convention Centre, Rayyan Mall (Mall of Qatar), Doha Zoo, Lusail Museum, and Katara Towers (Lusail Marina).
The total number of projects planned or underway include 5 museums and libraries; 57 hotels and resorts; 22 shopping venues; 21 sports facilities; 11 theme parks, 6 convention centres; and a state-of-the-art theatre (MEED).
Qatar saw 2.8 million visitors enter the country in 2014, an 8.2 percent increase in numbers over the previous year, generating 61,000 jobs in the tourism sector and an economic injection of $7.6 billion, equal to 8.3 percent of Qatar's non-extraction GDP, according to IFP Info.
Forty percent of tourists came from other GCC countries, 15 percent from European countries and 28 percent from Asia and Oceania, according to figures released by QTA.
Hotel occupancy rates increased to an average of 73 percent in 2014, with five-star properties enjoying the lion's share of visitors, and hoteliers in 2015 are expecting those numbers to rise further.
"Qatar has witnessed astounding economic growth over the past decade, and this has translated into a healthy tourism sector focused on culture, shopping, sporting events, meetings and exhibitions," said Nadege Noblet, exhibition manager, Arabian Travel Market.
"The recent completion of important infrastructure projects, such as the iconic Hamad International Airport in 2014 and Qatar Airways' plans to significantly expand its capacity across Europe this year, has confirmed Qatar's position as an important travel and tourism hub for the region, which ATM 2015 is keen to highlight."
Last year ATM saw total attendance increase by 12 percent with 33,000 participants from over 131 countries, and business deals signed worth more than $2.1 billion over the four days.