Rabia Faisal Al Nakib, branch manager of Alpha Tours, Qatar, discusses the impact that the Asian Games has had on business and tells ATN what’s in store for 2007.
ATN: What are the main business activities of Alpha Tours in Qatar?
We mainly deal with entry visas, meet-and-greet assistance, airport and hotel transportation, and all kinds of tours, excursions and desert safaris.
ATN: How did the Asian Games impact business?
The Asian Games 2006 had a great impact on our business, both for Alpha Tours and [for our agency business] Regency Travel. Since Regency Travel was the official travel agent of the Asian Games, this reflected positively on Alpha Tours business. We had offices at the media centre and the Athletes Village offering tours for people visiting Qatar for the first time, opening great opportunities to obtain business.
ATN: What challenges did the games present?
In general, we had a smooth operation during the games; however we had some challenges in providing enough tour guides that spoke similar languages to the large numbers of participants.
ATN: How will the games affect tourism in Qatar in the long run?
The well-organised event led to great exposure of Qatar worldwide. I personally expect to see a good return in general on tourism in Qatar and a great deal of international recognition.
ATN: What are the main issues affecting Qatar’s tourism industry today?
The main issue we have been faced with during the past few years has been the availability of hotel rooms. However, this will be resolved during the coming year, because at least 48 new hotels are expected to open in Doha by 2008 and some of them have already started operating.
ATN: What areas of your business will you develop further in 2007?
We intend to increase the size of our operation, thanks to the opening of more of hotels in Doha during 2007. Furthermore, Alpha Tours Qatar will explore new opportunities and approach new business partners by attending international exhibitions and events.
We will introduce new services to Alpha Tours that will add value to our customers and the business, and work closely with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) in positioning the country as a leading tourist destination to maximise the number of visitors.
ATN: What inbound tourism trends do you predict for 2007?
We expect to see a continuation of the large numbers of business travellers coming to Qatar, however, new museums, resorts, sports events and facilities and other activities will attract new types of travellers to Qatar.
ATN: When will the cruise industry start to include Qatar in their Gulf itineraries?
We are currently working on it. Our office in Dubai already has a partnership with Costa Cruises and we are negotiating with the Qatari Authorities [to attract cruises to Doha], however, this will take some time to finalise.