‘World-class’ attractions ahead of World Cup, says Qatar Tourism COO
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. New tourism projects including hotels and attractions are being built ahead of the football championship. I asked Berthold Trenkel, COO of Qatar Tourism, to explain the appeal of visiting Qatar.
The pace of growth in Qatar is staggering. Last time I checked, you have 100 new hotels and hotel apartments under construction. What is fueling all this development?
As we prepare to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we expect to welcome over one million visitors. Extensive tourism development is therefore underway to meet the needs and budgets of each type of traveler.
More Travel CEO Q&As
World Nomads CEO: As Covid-19 infections drop, it’s time to travel ‘responsibly’
Eurail CEO: Abandoning short-haul flights makes European trains more attractive
For travelers, “the worst of the pandemic is behind us”, says CEO of Generali Global Assistance
Global Rescue CEO: Covid is coming out ‘with a bang’, but here’s what travelers need to know now
When I tell people I’m planning to visit Qatar, the first thing they mention is the weather. They say, “Avoid the summer.” Even people I’ve met in Qatar say it’s really uncomfortable in June, July and August. How do you get people to visit a place where the average summer temperature is in triple digits?
Qatar enjoys year-round sunshine, and although summer temperatures can be warmer than those experienced by travelers from the United States and other countries, there is an incredible range of activities to do even during these months.
The other thing is – Qatar in the summer is dry heat – which is much more bearable than, say, the humid heat you’ll encounter in Florida. You have to experience it yourself and see that it’s actually not that hot and life goes on in the evening and at night in the Middle East when the sun isn’t shining.
So what to do inside?
Qatar has several world-renowned spa and wellness locations, such as ESPA Spa within the Mondrian Doha, Sharq Village Spa and Sisley Paris Spa at W Doha – the largest Sisley Paris Spa in the world . There are also a range of malls to visit including Al Hazm Mall, Mall of Qatar, Doha Festival City and Galleries of Lafayette.
Travelers who want to immerse themselves in the culture of Qatar can visit one of our many entertainment attractions like Quest Doha, which has the tallest indoor roller coaster in the world and the National Museum of Qatar, the Museum of Illusions and the museums of downtown Msheireb in Doha.
How has Qatar fared during the pandemic?
The health and safety of residents, citizens and travelers is the top priority. The Ministry of Public Health is monitoring cases in Qatar and around the world, implementing relevant measures to ensure a safe experience for all, and we will continue to follow their advice and guidance.
Despite the pandemic, Qatar has added new hotels, an indoor theme park called Quest Doha, an outdoor water park, and new shopping malls since 2020. What’s the goal?
Qatar is constantly evolving to ensure visitors have a seamless and memorable journey, and we look forward to welcoming travelers to the country.
Over the past 24 months we have been busy welcoming a range of new hotels, resorts, restaurants, activities and major leisure projects. This will make Qatar the fastest growing destination in the Middle East. In doing so, we aim to increase the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP to 12%.
What other events besides the World Cup take place in Qatar?
Last year, we announced that Qatar would host world-class tournaments and festivals such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Doha Winter Wonderland and the Geneva International Motor Show over the next few years.
I think one of the main concerns people have when they come to the Middle East is security. Qatar has a few programs, such as Qatar Clean and the contact tracing app, Ehteraz. How do these programs reassure visitors?
Qatar continues to implement world-class health and safety measures. Programs such as Qatar Clean apply the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness, with rigorous procedures in place to ensure guest safety. We are happy to say that all hotels approved by Qatar Tourism are certified “Qatar Clean”.
Ehteraz, the official contact tracing app for the State of Qatar, provided by the Ministry of Public Health, aims to protect and preserve the health of citizens, residents and visitors and helps prevent and reduce spread of Covid-19.
As you have seen, everyone must have Ehteraz and show a green health status to enter the country and enjoy Qatar’s hotels, restaurants, cafes, malls and activities.
And Qatar already has a reputation for safety.
Yes, Qatar was ranked the third safest country in the world in 2021 by Global Finance magazine in July, which based its analysis primarily on countries that effectively managed and prevented Covid-19 outbreaks. These measures, together with our current vaccination rate of 86.7% of the total population receiving two doses of vaccine, help Qatar continue to protect residents, citizens and visitors against Covid-19.
It should also be noted that in terms of crime and general safety, Qatar was ranked last year by Numbeo as the safest country in the world and has been for some time.
Many destinations offer mobile apps for tourists, but I was intrigued by the Visit the Qatar app. According to the description, it’s part of a digital transformation strategy and uses cloud-based Adobe Experience Manager features to deliver a “rich, data-driven, curated experience.” What does this mean for the average visitor?
The Visit Qatar mobile app is a great tool for travelers to discover and learn about Qatar at their fingertips.
The app offers 360-degree and panoramic views of iconic landmarks and monuments as well as personalized recommendations of nearby attractions and points of interest. It allows users to get a glimpse of what they will experience in Qatar while having access to an extensive calendar of festivals and events. Users can also create a shortlist of favorite places and landmarks to visit with a map wizard and discover recommendations based on user preferences.
Qatar is blessed with one of the best airlines in the world, Qatar Airways, and an award-winning airport. How does this help you promote a destination like Qatar?
We are fortunate to work side by side with the best airline in the world. For those who come to visit Qatar with Qatar Airways, the experience begins the moment you board the plane. Qatar Airways, which I’m sure you are aware of, has been voted the World’s Best Airline for the sixth time at the 2021 Skytrax World Airlines Awards. This proves the world-class experience that Qatar Airways offers.
Additionally, travelers will arrive at Hamad International Airport, which was recently recognized as the World’s Best Airport in the 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards.
How do you respond to potential visitors who have doubts about the region’s ideology?
Everyone is welcome to visit Qatar, and as with all countries in the Middle East, we simply ask guests to be considerate and respect the local culture and traditions; something that is common practice all over the world when traveling and being the guest.