Tourism plays a crucial role in Qatar’s Third National Development Strategy 2024-30 (NDS-3), which serves as the primary framework for achieving the goals set out in Qatar National Vision 2030. The NDS-3 focuses on seven strategic outcomes: sustainable economic growth, fiscal sustainability, a future-ready workforce, social cohesion, enhanced quality of life, environmental sustainability and government excellence.

The strategy emphasises diversification clusters to promote sustainable economic expansion, with tourism, logistics and manufacturing identified as key growth areas distinct from hydrocarbons production. By prioritising these sectors, Qatar aims to maintain resilience amid fluctuations in global petroleum demand, while adhering to international climate regulations and its own environmental commitments.

Segment Advantages

A key objective for the tourism industry is to position Qatar as a preferred destination for families, while broadening entertainment and cultural offerings to appeal to a range of visitors. The NDS-3 emphasises the further development of the country’s burgeoning meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment by leveraging its advanced infrastructure. Qatar also seeks to cater to specialised demand segments in sports tourism. The strategy aims to better leverage the connectivity of Hamad International Airport and develop policies to enhance the sector’s competitiveness. By the culmination of the plan in 2030, Qatar aims to attract 6m visitors annually, generating a total in-destination spend of QR34bn ($9.3bn) and accommodating 19m total room nights per year.

Qatar possesses several advantages when it comes to marketing towards families. The country is recognised for guaranteeing high levels of personal safety, and there is a wide variety of activities oriented towards those travelling with children. “The offerings of indoor theme parks, outdoor entertainment, parks and water parks are great for families,” Berthold Trenkel, advisor to the chairman of Qatar Tourism, the entity responsible for strategy and policy development, told OBG. “Every destination has something for families, but Qatar in itself is very family friendly.”

Although the domestic MICE sector is still evolving, it already boasts several significant advantages. Qatar is situated within a six-hour flight of 80% of the global population, making it a convenient location for hosting international gatherings. Its strategic location between Europe and Asia, coupled with Qatar Airways offering direct flights to 12 US cities, further enhances its appeal. Doha also features two modern convention centres, including the 29,000-sq-metre Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre, which caters to a diverse range of event needs.

Sustaining Momentum

The tourism sector faces a persistent challenge stemming from the relatively small domestic market. Consequently, the country’s tourism strategy necessitates a strong focus on regional and international outreach, rather than a reliance on domestic visitors. Despite this, there has been a noticeable uptick in global awareness of the country as a destination. Market research conducted by Qatar Tourism indicates that there has been a substantial increase in awareness of the country following its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, particularly in countries such as India, Brazil and the US. However, the knowledge gap – with respect to the range of tourist activities that are available to international visitors – remains an incumbent obstacle.

Regardless, Qatar has seen an increase in interest from abroad in exploring or revisiting the country. The momentum generated by the FIFA World Cup has persisted, as evidenced by the surge in visitor numbers seen in 2023 compared to previous years. Additionally, data from Qatar Tourism indicates that a significant milestone was reached in January 2024, as Qatar recorded the highest number of room nights in a single month ever, surpassing 1m for the first time.