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Thomas Fehlbier Thomas Fehlbier

Thomas Fehlbier, Area General Manager, Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara

QATAR IS TRANSFORMING INTO A UNIQUE BUSINESS AND LEISURE DESTINATION ACCORDING TO THOMAS FEHLBIER, AREA GENERAL MANAGER, BANANA ISLAND RESORT DOHA,WHICH AIMS TO CULTIVATE A BALANCED BUSINESS AND LEISURE HOTEL ENVIRONMENT.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How was 2017 in terms of business, and how does this compare to the previous years? Who is your main source market?

THOMAS FEHLBIER: This year has proved to be one of Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara’s most successful yet, becoming the resort of choice for many families in Qatar looking for a luxurious weekend or holiday getaway.

Occupancy rates exceeded all expectations and the resort was fully booked during Eid al Adha, one of the major local holidays in Qatar.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How important is the MICE sector to your business and in your opinion to the ongoing success and ambitious targets of Qatar’s tourism industry?

THOMAS FEHLBIER: MICE and business travellers are one of the client segments that we welcome at our resort and we employ our extraordinary hospitality and customer service practices to ensure that we cater to their every wish.

In terms of Qatar’s tourism industry, we believe that the country’s ambitious plans for increasing tourism activities and spending, call for attention to the MICE sector as one of the key ways to have a thriving tourism and hospitality sector and achieve the nation’s tourism vision and its long-term objectives.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Qatar Tourism Authority aims to triple the number of business events tourists by 2030, contributing at least half of the country’s revenue from tourism spending. What is it that makes Qatar stand out as a MICE destination?

THOMAS FEHLBIER: Qatar has rapidly grown in importance in the region and around the globe.As a MICE destination, Qatar combines solid infrastructure, a well-established hospitality industry, huge ballrooms and conference halls, leisure facilities, convenient air links, good weather and a rich hospitable culture. Combined, those factors are being leveraged through the concerted efforts of Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar MICE Development Institute, and Qatar Airways, to turn the country into the region's ultimate MICE destination.

This has so far translated into the hosting of several key regional and renowned international events, including Moto GP, Moscow International Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference, G77 Summit, and many more. A growing number of regional and international organisations and institutions are now choosing Qatar as one of their favourite MICE destinations.

More recently, the extraordinary facilities and efforts of QTA have turned Qatar into the region’s most open tourist destination. Thanks to a number of visa, entry and travel-oriented initiatives and more automated systems, including the free entry visa waiver programme for nationals of more than 80 countries, a visit to Qatar, has become more streamlined, hassle-free and smoother than ever before.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What kind of facilities / services do you offer to cater for MICE clients?

THOMAS FEHLBIER: Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara offers attractive full- and half-day meeting packages that include everything any corporation may require to conduct effective meetings, incentive trips, or team building activities.To add excitement to the mix, Banana Island Resort is bringing visitors a vast choice of activities to inspire, relax and thrill at the resort’s recreation centre. Both above and below the water, the centre presents guests with a myriad leisure activities, such as a fully-equipped fitness centre, surf and swimming pools, children and teen clubs, Velo-Taxi tours, Racing Simulators, and a range of sports activities. In addition to that, the resort boasts the first and only wellness centre of its kind in the Middle East, its own helicopter pad, marina, and dive centre.

Moreover, we work with our travel partners to offer sightseeing trips in Qatar for them to explore the nation and enjoy the diverse sights and sounds the country offers.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are your future plans which aim to further boost Qatar's MICE sector and attract more corporate travellers from regional and international markets?

THOMAS FEHLBIER: We will continue to strongly contribute and participate in more focused and business oriented events, and engage in a number of activities and programmes that promote the country as a favorable MICE destination. We will also highlight its advantages as such, in addition to shedding a spotlight on our resort as a unique property for B2B events, corporate getaways and networking activities – as the resort is very well prepared to manage such events and provide a perfect blend of business and leisure.