Qatar needs to overcome certain challenges that are slowing the growth of tourism sector in the country, Sheikh Hamad bin Ahmed al Thani, head of Qatar Chamber's Tourism Committee, has said.
Though Qatar boasts traditional markets, museums, sand dunes, enchanting beaches, sports facilities, luxury malls and hotels, sophisticated conference and exhibitions centers – important ingredients to make it a distinctive tourist destination – there are several obstacles that are hampering the growth of Qatar's tourism, Sheikh Hamad said.
Sheikh Hamad, who is also a board member of Qatar Chamber, said that these obstacles include shortage of places for entertainment, higher prices of Qatar Airways tickets compared with other airlines, lack of efforts to promote Qatar as a touristic destination abroad, the delay in issuance of tourism visas and the complicated procedures for getting clearance from Civil Defense to open new hotel facilities.
Sheikh Hamad said that collaboration among all authorities concerned and private sector are needed to overcome these obstacles.
The latest comprehensive study conducted by Qatar Chamber Tourism Committee on how to develop the promising sector and to monitor challenges facing the sector also revealed that higher prices of tourist services in some hotels are also negatively affecting the tourism activity and hampers the growth of the sector.
"The tourism sector's revenues are restricted to business tourism, conferences, exhibitions, visit of families from GCC countries and sport championships," Sheikh Hamad added.
"This sector can be developed further and its share to the country's GDP can be increased, which stands at 4.9 percent currently," he said.
The study has also suggested a number of solutions that can contribute to the development of the tourism sector, including the promotion of tourist attractions such as Khor Al Adaid.
"Khor Al Adaid has pristine beauty and natural coastal areas. The place, however, lacks necessary facilities like hotels and recreational facilities. The place also suffers from poor mobile phone network. We need to sort out these issues and develop Al Khor as one of the prime tourist destinations of Qatar," Sheikh Hamad said.
"We also need to speed up the new visa system as announced by Qatar Airways in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior to attract more tourists. It is also necessary to activate the single tourist visa system among GCC countries to promote tourism. Revitalisation of the exhibition sector and streamlining the civil defense measures in the licensing of new hotels are also needed," he added.
He also urged Qatar Airways to reduce the prices of its tickets to Doha.