Qatar is “extremely well positioned” to attract Chinese tourists due to its luxurious offerings and high level of service, a Welcome Chinese senior official has said.
Welcome Chinese, the only official overseas hospitality certification programme recognised by the Chinese government, collaborates with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) to empower the country’s hospitality, tourism and retail sectors to meet the requirements of Chinese tourists.
“China is the world’s biggest and fastest-growing outbound tourism market. Opportunities are limitless and we strongly believe that Qatar is in a prime position to entice Chinese tourists to travel to Doha and explore areas beyond the capital city,” Welcome Chinese marketing consultant Anna Klapper said.
“The tourism world is extremely competitive. However, the ease of visa-free travel is a game changer,” she noted.
Citizens of 80 countries, including China, India and Russia, can now enter Qatar visa-free, making it the most open country in the region.
Nationals of more than 240 countries are also eligible to apply for a tourist e-visa online to visit the country, according to QTA.
While shopping and retail remain to be key attractions for Chinese tourists, Klapper pointed out that Qatar has a lot to offer.
She cited the country’s rich culture and heritage, and unique experiences such as “sweeping natural landscapes, stunning urban architecture, Arabian culture and hospitality.”
“We have conducted a lot of research which shows that as the Chinese travellers evolve, they will seek experiential travel more and more – and Qatar can meet those needs,” Klapper stressed.
“The desert meets the water in Qatar. There are only two places in the world where you can do that, and I would say Qatar is number one as the water is warm enough so you can take advantage of that too,” she explained. “Seeing the sand dunes next to the water under a setting sun – Who doesn't want to have a memory of a lifetime?”
Qatar was granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) in China in September last year, allowing it to receive Chinese tourists and promote its tourism destinations within China.
The ADS system seeks to guarantee safe and reliable tourism services for Chinese customers, from both local travel agencies and international tour operators.
Asked about her favourite experiences and attractions in Qatar, Klapper said she felt welcomed by the hospitality and friendliness of the people during her 48 hours in the country.
“I was particularly taken by the architecture of the Museum of Islamic Art: The fountain area, which leads out to the library and overlooks Doha’s skyline framed by the arches is absolutely stunning,” she added.
“I was also introduced to my first falcon and learned about their incredible abilities and different hunting techniques. They are beautiful creatures and they have my full respect,” recounted Klapper, who mulls visiting Qatar with her family again in the future to explore more.
Key requirements of the Chinese market
Basic requirements include training hospitality professionals in Chinese customs and culture to ensure they can appropriately host guests from China.
Facilitating money transactions is also important, and therefore the ability to accept Union Pay is a requirement, according to Anna Klapper.
She noted that Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is creating the country’s own set of resources and plans are underway to improve existing facilities such as providing a directory of Chinese-speaking doctors or providing Chinese-speaking staff round-the-clock in case of emergencies.
Welcome Chinese, present in 30 countries globally and in the GCC region, has partners across various verticals in the travel industry, including airlines, airports, cities, regions, attractions and museums. It now has more than 150 hotels certified on a global level with the Welcome Chinese designation.
In collaborating with QTA, it is the first time that Welcome Chinese work closely with a government entity on a national level to prepare and promote a country as a destination for Chinese tourists.