Omar Alfardan, President and CEO, Alfardan Group, on developments in Qatar’s real estate and tourism sectors

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QA16_Online Economic Views_Omar Alfardan 21.07.16-min (1)_0.pngEconomic View: Omar Alfardan

Given that the majority of new property projects in the pipeline are in the luxury segment, should the local private sector build more properties in the three- and four-star segment?

Omar Alfardan: It is important to develop a wide range of hotels that will address the unique needs of various travelers; having projects in all segments will attract a more diverse selection of travelers who have particular needs in terms of facilities and budget.

Although many companies develop iconic and luxurious five-star projects, there are also companies that develop three- and four-star hotels to address the increasing demand and growth of tourists. This is largely compounded by the number of events, pioneering infrastructure projects and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will attract a number of visitors from all over the globe.

How can the government help drive further growth in this sector?

ALFARDAN: Qatar has implemented a comprehensive strategy as part of its dedicated efforts to meet the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 across all sectors. The government has shown continuous support to all sectors to achieve further development and diversify sources of income in the state.

This has led to a stronger collaboration between government entities, such as the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce, to further cultivate the private sector and help establish sustainability in the local economy.

In 2015 Qatar welcomed 2.93m visitors, which was 3.7% more than 2014, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). Indeed, the country received 72% more visitors in 2015 than in 2010, which notes an average annual growth rate of 11.5% over the past five years. These impressive numbers reflect the active efforts Qatar has made to enhance its tourism facilities and infrastructure.

This will be further complemented by projects in the pipeline within the country’s hospitality sector. In 2015 we witnessed the opening of 15 new hotels and apartment buildings, raising the total number of hotel properties to 119. All of this would not have been possible without the continuous support and guidance from the government and public and private sectors.

What is the level of cooperation between the private sector and QTA with regards to diversifying source markets for visitors?

ALFARDAN: In 2014 QTA announced the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, a long-term blueprint that will help advance the tourism industry through a series of well-defined plans, programmes, projects and policies, which were developed according to best international practices following a nationwide consultative process.

The strategy is an integrated effort to ensure the country’s sustainable development by reducing its reliance on its hydrocarbons resources, while also reinforcing its position on the world map in terms of tourism by promoting culture, values and traditions.

This strategy encourages the private sector to play a more active role in spearheading tourism-related initiatives and plans; enhancing the country’s tourism human capital through specialized academic and training programmes; and ensuring that all tourism-related promotional efforts are well-targeted and implemented in a strategic manner according to clear and quantifiable parameters.

Furthermore, the strategy provides a clear direction for Qatar’s future industry, and will offer a series of regulations that can empower and render the tourism sector more competitive. One of the main objectives of the strategy focuses on the diversification of tourists in line with efforts to increase the number of visitors from outside the GCC to 64% by 2030.

QTA is actively supporting private companies in the hospitality industry in an effort to further establish a sustainable and fruitful sector. It is for this reason that they launched the sector strategy, which will feature an investment of $45bn in tourism projects over the next 15 years. This also falls in line with the country’s efforts to attract tourists and increase the number of arrivals to 7m by 2030. The programs and initiatives will also promote stronger collaboration between public and private sector entities.

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