UNWTO says siege didn’t affect Qatar tourism

 02 Oct 2017 - 3:17

The Peninsula

The siege did not affect inbound tourism in Qatar, said Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Rifai said the state is expected to attract more than six million tourists a year, which will reflect positively on the GDP. He pointed out that the World Tourism Organization does not have any indicators confirming the decline of global tourism to Qatar, but the only decline is in the number of tourists of neighbouring countries, adding that influx of tourists from Asian and European countries continues in Doha.
There is a national will to employ tourism to become one of the factors of sustainable development as “inexhaustible oil”, Rifai told Al Sharq. On Doha’s victory in hosting World Tourism Day celebrations, he pointed out that this decision was taken two years ago in Colombia, where all members considered that there is no justification for changing this decision. He stressed that the decision was made scientifically and objectively and not emotionally and without any influence or political pressure from any entity or state.
Rifai said that this event has a great impact on Qatari tourism sector. He pointed out that the Qatari tourism industry has never been affected by the siege and that Qatar continues to receive large numbers of international tourists. The State of Qatar, he said, is facing a challenge because of the outcomes of the siege and it began to think practically and logically of diversifying the sources of tourism, such as allowing visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries.
UNWTO Secretary-General underlined that tourists from all over the world are no longer willing to go to embassies to get visas for two or three weeks, so the State of Qatar is now a very advanced country in the region.
The contribution of the tourism sector to the economic output of the State of Qatar is estimated at 3 percent, but the policies and legislations adopted by the State to enhance tourism will contribute to increasing the contribution of this sector to the GDP, especially as there is a desire to employ tourism as a factor of sustainable development, he pointed out.
The aviation sector is closely linked to tourism, Rifai said, noting Qatar Airways’ role in strengthening tourism sector and its historic success, as it was able to make Doha a meeting center for the world, a qualitative tourist destination and a hub for international transit.
This gave Doha and Qatar Airways a high value, he said, adding that more importantly, the free 96-hour transit visa for all nationalities and other visa decisions will attract many visitors.
Qatar’s tourism infrastructure is well established and strong, as well as very advanced and able to accommodate large numbers of visitors, he noted.