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Qatar: Pearl of the Middle-East

Whilst most countries around the world are suffering from the global financial downturn, economic growth in Qatar has remained positive, with over 9% GDP growth projected for 2009. Such economic activity is ma-king sure the hotel industry remains stable. Indeed, performance indicators show that over a 12 month rolling period, as of April 2009, Qatar has managed to sustain over 7% RevPAR growth, driven by a healthy ADR increase of over 12%. Although the months of March and April recorded a decline, this was primarily due to an increase in room supply, with the new opening the new W Hotel Doha.“Our expansion is growing at a remarkable pace. With new aircraft joining our fleet at an incredible rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, we need airport infrastructure to be able to cope, hence the creation of a new transit terminal and more seating capacity at the Premium Terminal,” he said. “The state of the global aviation industry amid the current economic situation and concerns over global health are understandable. But whatever is happening around the world will not affect our plans. We are committed and remain committed to growth and all our expansion is pressing ahead on schedule,” concluded Al Baker.Like many of its GGC neighbours, Qatar is heavily investing in its long-term sustainability. Although gas- and oil-driven wealth remains the backbone of the country’s economy, and should provide immediate business for hoteliers, other industry sectors are starting to appear, firmly establishing Qatar as a quality allround destination.“To date, Qatar’s clientele segment heavily revolved around business segments, however this is slowly changing and becoming a lot more leisure focussed,” says General Manager, Sharq Village & Spa, Hoss Vetry. “Initiatives from the government, Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar National Hotels Company and of course Qatar Airways’ expansion are making sure the country moves in the right direction. A well thought-out strategy, with new infrastructure and major projects is making sure of this. Within the next two years we will see drastic changes, which will make Qatar an even more appealing destination,” added Vetry.Qatar has leveraged its resources to build a modern, prosperous nation. Looking to diversify its economy, the government has earmarked $130 billion for projects and initiatives across a broad spectrum of industries.Tourism and development will play a vital role in Qatar’s future. The government allocated $17 billion for tourism over the next five years, including the construction of luxury hotels, resorts and other leisure facilities, guaranteed to make the country even more attractive. These many projects, including Qatar Foundation, The Pearl Qatar, Lusail Island and Cultural Village are indeed generating positive business for the local market. World renown, The Pearl, a $2.5 billion real-estate development involves the creation of a 40-hectare man-made island. It will encompass 7,600 residential units, three luxury hotels, numerous retail outlets and four marinas.Overall Qatar is targeting a 400% rise in hotel capacity (29,000 rooms) by 2012. A total of 80,000 hotel rooms in various categories will be available by 2016.With regards to tourism strategy, focus on niche sectors, such as spa & wellness, sports, adventure and cultural tourism are diversifying Qatar’s offerings. No doubt however, business tourism and MICE will remain the main driver. Qatar is well-positioned to take advantage of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions market. Ample modern facilities make planning and running even the largest events effortless. After work, Qatar’s leisure appeal offers conference attendees a number of ways to unwind.Major MICE facilities include: Doha Exhibition Centre, completed in 2007 at a cost of $65.9 million, designed to host six simultaneous exhibitions on its 15,000 m2; Doha Convention Centre & Tower will have a total capacity of 40,000 m2 of exhibition space and be home to a premier hotel, luxury apartments and substantial office space; and Qatar National Convention Centre, scheduled to open at the end of 2010, and include a total of 57 meeting rooms and 40,000 m2 of exhibition space, as well as two auditoria, a multi-purpose hall and a theatre to meet the demands of global conference and exhibition organisers.Accessibility is Key The New Doha International Airport (NDIA) will be constructed on a 22 million m2 area east to the existing Doha airport and will require extensive land reclamation from the sea. The new air-port will be six times the current existing airport. Once completed (expected by 2010), the new airport will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380, will have a capacity of 50 million passengers per year and enable 320,000 aircrafts takeoffs and landings per year.According to CEO, Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, these airport investments were necessary as the national airline was committed to its long-term passenger growth averaging 35 per cent year-on-year.“Our expansion is growing at a remarkable pace. With new aircraft joining our fleet at an incredible rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, we need airport infrastructure to be able to cope, hence the creation of a new transit terminal and more seating capacity at the Premium Terminal,” he said. “The state of the global aviation industry amid the current economic situation and concerns over global health are understandable. But whatever is happening around the world will not affect our plans. We are committed and remain committed to growth and all our expansion is pressing ahead on schedule,” concluded Al Baker.

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