Qatar tourism momentum on the rise

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Giant teapot sculpture (dallah, or coffee pot monument) and West Bay towers from Corniche in Doha, Qatar. Photo – Asergeev.com

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) revealed tourist arrivals from other GCC member states rose by 22% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, the Oxford Business Group said in its report on Wednesday. The tiny gas-rich nation saw an increase of 50% compared to 2011, with more than 845,000 visitors from the region arriving in the country.

The Doha-based tourism organisation added that visitor numbers from Europe were also up 15% year-on-year basis, while tourists from the Arab world increased by 19%.Visitors from the rest of Asia, including China and India, were up by 58%.

The majority of the travellers were business-related, accounting for 72% of all arrivals. Qatar is attracting thousands of business tourists every year thanks to its thriving economy which is one of the fastest-growing in the world. It is also positioning itself as a base for business across the Middle East; and establishing as a destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

Qatar is also emerging as a major destination for international sports events. The Gulf nation won the right to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup in December 2010. Doha has successfully hosted several regional and international tournaments including the 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals, the 2011 Arab Games, the 15th Asian Games in 2006, the annual Qatar Open, as well as MotoGP and golf events, OBG said in its report.

The tiny desert nation is also planning to bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the general secretary of the Qatar Olympic Committee, told international press in late June. He insisted that Qatar would continue to bid for the games despite having been turned down for the 2016 and 2020 events.

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