TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How was business in the first half of the year?
DYAN ANDRADO: While business has been steady throughout this year and we expected to see a substantial growth compared to 2016, we definitely have been affected by the blockade to some extent.
Thankfully, we have seen a rise in holiday travel once again during the past few weeks, however that has still not brought us on par with what we had experienced on 2016.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Where do your customers arrive from?
DYAN ANDRADO: We do get a lot of visitors from all over the world specially because of having probably the best airline in the world using Doha as its hub.
This has resulted in millions of people transiting in Qatar with a few curious travellers stopping to find out how this small country has achieved all it has.
The government has also actively [targeted] visitors by easing up on visa requirements and investing heavily in making Qatar the sports centre of the Middle East.
Before the blockade, the majority of our visitors arrived purely for leisure were from the neighbouring countries of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
During summer, for obvious reasons, inbound travel reduces to mainly business and a bit of transit traffic.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are you doing to attract non-GCC travellers to Qatar?
DYAN ANDRADO: As mentioned above, an active interest in sports has really exploded Qatar into the world scene. In addition to which, the government is planning some truly exceptional attractions which will make Qatar the place to visit in a few years time.
At the moment we enjoy some of the best hotels and restaurants with the highest standards, quite substantial malls, authentic Souqs – or marketplaces – which thrive on the weekends, museums with a rich history of stories to tell, probably the best desert safari and camping in the Middle East, dhow rides coupled with some of the most truly magnificent architecture you could expect to see at one destination.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What more can be done to attract non-GCC visitors?
DYAN ANDRADO: Sports is a great leveller and can help bridge many divides and bring people and cultures closer together.
Already we are beginning to see a lot of interest in Qatar from the international market.
A few cruise ships make landfall here and more are expected to join soon.
As mentioned, some truly extraordinary projects have been planned and the metro system, which is currently being built, is going to make the country much more accessible to visitors as well as to locals and expatriates that call Qatar home.
Among the planned projects is an extraordinary zoo that surely will be one of a kind.
Projects such as these ensure that Qatar is in for some extremely interesting times ahead.
And all of these do not include the showpiece that will be the FIFA World Cup that will be held here in 2022.
These projects show that the government is not only interested in hosting the best world cup, but plans to make Qatar a truly great destination to visit even after.
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What does the future hold for Qatar’s tourism industry?
DYAN ANDRADO: In a nutshell, Qatar is truly heading towards becoming a showpiece and a jewel in the Middle East.
Unfortunate and unnecessary events have been witnessed in the recent past, perhaps seeking to dull the vision of Qatar, however it has backfired spectacularly with the people coming together more than ever, more determined and with an independent spirit and a will that is stronger.
We cannot wait to see what the future holds for Qatar and we are truly excited to be a part of this movement.
We would like to extend an invitation to everyone around the world to come and witness what Qatar is becoming.
Ultimately, it is not the investments that makes Qatar great, it is its people with their vision, ambition and drive, which is taking Qatar to new heights.