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Phil Dickinson, Qatar Tourism, on the destination's future

Qatar Tourism's head of global international markets development spoke to Travel Bulletin about Qatar's plans to increase destination awareness, and the country's positioning in the run up to the World Cup next year.

On Qatar's plans for 2021

The focus for us is two fold – consumer awareness and market readiness.

Firstly, we want to get out there with some consumer awareness campaigns. A huge amount of surveys we conducted found that the awareness level is not where we want it to be – a lot of what we do at the moment is dispel myths people have about Qatar. From around September and October, we will see more awareness campaigns.

The UK & Ireland is obviously one of our key markets, and we will do this through paid marketing campaigns, media and PR activities.

In terms of market readiness, we've got a new team in Qatar who are sales leads that manage markets. They make sure we're market ready, selling the right packages, making sure hotels are at the right rates, and more. We're also talking to key tour operators in the market, to increase our visitation numbers. This could be to promote luxury holiday package deals, sun and sand holidays, and even active holidays – we have a lot to offer. Canoeing through the mangroves, desert safaris, quad biking, parasailing, dune bashing, the list kind of goes on.

We are also a huge stop over destination – we're perfect for this, given our location.

Right now, we're looking to organise partnership agreements with tour operators – it's about really getting the Qatar product on the shelf, so it's a bit of a call to action for tour operators.

World Cup 2022

We've been preparing for the last 6-7 years now for this. We have new road systems, new underground systems (metro), and have added an additional 100 hotels to our existing portfolio, to accommodate for the huge number of people coming into the country. We want to build on the legacy and the momentum of the World Cup with additional inventory and more attractions – the plan for us is to treble arrivals by 2030.

We'll be doing a lot on social media space with digital advertising.

UK trade engagement

We're working closely with tour operators, and this of course will extend to travel agents too. We plan to run a series of fam trips down to Qatar, so that agents and the trade can experience a series of our products, when time and rules permit. We also have an agent training programme which is in the middle of being updated, our Tawash programme. Things have changed so dramatically, so we've had to update this with what to do, what to see, where to go, cuisine choices, hotels, theme parks, etc. That will launch soon, and agents will be able to go in and register to get their certification.

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