A stopover in Qatar

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(eTN) – Qatar is promoting a new 48-hour leisure layover hub for long-haul flights as part of its of developing heritage tourism.

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(eTN) – Qatar is promoting a new 48-hour leisure layover hub for long-haul flights as part of its of developing heritage tourism.

In London at the World Travel Market, the Qatar Tourism Authority promoted its new campaign “Experience Qatar in 48 hours – our business is your pleasure” to the travel trade in Europe and in Asia. The campaign has been introduced during international travel exhibitions and special road shows since early this year.

“We organize itineraries for many groups that travel between the UK and Asia on the way from London to Singapore, Hongkong, or Australia,” said Val Rozario, operations manager of Take Flight Travel. In UK, we find that many know Qatar as a nation prosperous in oil and gas, but they are learning about Qatar as a travel destination.”

“Our 48 hours campaign targets passengers on long-haul flights between Europe and Asia enticing them to transit and stop over in Doha, as well as inspiring business visitors in Doha to extend their stay,” said Soha Moussa, Qatar Tourism Authority head of promotions and organizing, “as we meet with UK travel professionals to tell them what Qatar has to offer for the first time.”

Ziad Mallah, Associate Director of Sales of Sharq Village & Spa, the only Resort Hotel in Doha right on the beach (operated by Ritz Carlton), found World Travel Market far more quiet this year compared to last year. Whereas Doha is extremely busy, he said, the Shark Village & Spa is currently running on an 87% occupancy. “We are completely full in December and January due to very big congresses and functions,” he said.

Already by 2010 the city of Doha will offer 10,000 rooms in 45 hotels. The rapid growth is continuing, and Qatar is is set to increase hotel capacity from its 7,000 luxury rooms to more than 29,000 by year 2012. A government allocation of US$17 billion for tourism over the next 5 years, including the construction of luxury hotels, resorts, and other leisure facilties, will make the country more attractive.

It is true that Qatar is far more conservative than its bustling neighborhood, the UAE, and Erik Fogelstrand of Arabian Adventure thinks Qatar is a huge pearl in the entire Gulf region and hopes that it will remain like that within the next coming years, with investments made according to the environment.

The pearl of the Gulf was hiding in its shell until 1939 when the discovery of oil revolutionized Qatar’s economy, and the country began building the foundation of its present prosperity, evolving into a mega pearl for global vision and investments. More recently, natural gas has been discovered in abbundance, and Qatar is set to become one of the world’s largest producers and exporters.

Doha is the fast-moving capital of Qatar, which boosts 1.4 million inhabitants on land that is 187 km in length – 11.437 sq km – and combines one of the world’s most vibrant economies with a rich background of culture and history. Qatar has a number of major investments in UK, including the Grosvenor Square,
London Stock Exchange, and Barclays, just to name a few. These investments all happened within the last few years, and Qatar has quickly come onto the global scene as an ideal venue for hosting large-scale conferences.

In 2011 alone, Doha will play host to the AFC Asian Cup Football Tournament at the world’s first underground football stadium and will also host the TESOL Conference, Pan Arab Games, and the World Petroleum Congress. oha will also host the Universal Postal Union in 2012, and is bidding on holding the World Chambers Congress 2013 and FIFA World Cup in 2022.

With the opening of the Aspire4Sport conference this week at the ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence – which is said to be the world’s largest indoor sports dome – the country will see the arrival of industry experts and sports icons alike. Rubens Barrichello, Zinedine Zidane, tennis legends Björn Borg and McEnroe, who will match up at the Khalifa Tennis Stadium later this week, will find the newly-opened, 150-room luxury Hotel Khalifa built in the French Chateau style directly on the compound at the Khalifa Sports complex (Aspire Zone).

There is also news from Qatar Airways from the master of supsense, CEO Akbar al Baker, who just announced his latest and 100th destination of Aleppo in Syria. This latest route will start four-times-weekly flights to Aleppo, Syria, starting from April 6, 2011. Named as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest cities in the world, Aleppo will be the airline’s second destination in Syria, after Damascus, where the carrier has been flying since 1998.

Qatar Airways started 13 years ago and has become one of the leading airlines in the world. On the growing discontent among European airlines about the rapid growth of Gulf carriers, Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker said earlier this month at the Aviation Summit in Doha: “In order to put their own house in order, they are trying to blame us for their shortcomings. They should be more efficient. They are worried because we are very cost focused, yet airlines in Europe are cost constrained and not allowed to grow because of their high cost base.”

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