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Published on : Monday, November 18, 2013
On the sidelines of the fourth edition of ASPIRE4SPORT, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), in partnership with the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), held yesterday the 2nd edition of “Sport & Tourism Forum” to discuss the impact of tournaments and sporting events hosted and organized by the Qatar Olympic Committee and sports federations on tourism in Qatar,and how to optimize the utilization of sporting events and sports venues to attract tourists to Qatar, and to make sports venues more economically viable and sustainable. The forum was held at Aspire Dome, in Doha, the venue for the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress and Exhibition.
The QTA-QOC forum took place during the first of two conferences organized during the ASPIRE4SPORT event, focused on stadia design and infrastructure requirements of major sporting events like the swimming, handball, boxing, Paralympic athletics and cycling world championships.The forum included four workshops, with specialists providing insight into the needs and development of the industry: Venue Commercialization and Utilization, Qatar Events and Spectators, Visa and Visitor Entry, and Marketing, Sales and distribution of sports-based travel.
The opening remarks of His Excellency Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary General of the QOC and His Excellency Mr. Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA underlined Qatar’s vision for sports tourism, its mission to become the region’s sports hub and the tools that will help create opportunities in the sports tourism industry.
In His opening speech, His Excellency Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee highlighted the importance that sport represents, due to its popularity, in boosting the business of tourism and further contributing in achieving the Qatar National Vision 2030 objectives towards a sustainable and steady development.”
Addressing the large number of participants in the forum, HE Sheik Saoud said: “Your participation shows the enormous dynamics of the area of Sport & Tourism and I am convinced that by the end of this short forum we will have great results.”
“Every necessary effort is to be made by all stakeholders in order to come up with concrete actions and initiatives allowing the best use of the many available opportunities and means to promote sports and tourism activities in the country and attract the general public as well as the various economic sectors who will all benefit from them.”
His Excellency Mr. Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA,provided an overview of Qatar’s tourism sector approach, including the role sports plays as one of eight focus tourism products.
“Sport brings the world together in a way that few other things can. Fans from around the world gather for iconic games, such as the Olympics and the World Cup, as we saw here first hand with the Asian Games in 2006 and as we anticipate for 2022. In many ways, therefore, the sports and tourism sectors are integrally connected. Sports events, which average around 20 each quarter, many of which are international, are very much part of Qatar’s flourishing events sector hosting over 60 major conferences each year”, said Al Mohannadi.
The Sports and Tourism Committee (joint QTA and QOC) shed light on the relationship between sports and tourism in various aspects. The Committee also gave a presentation on its role in the promotion of tourism through sports, especially that Qatar plays host to international sporting events that draw visitors from across the region, including the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix, as well as the upcoming 2015 IHF Handball World Championships, the World Boxing Championships, the 2015 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletic World Championship and the 2016 Road World Championships.
The Middle East sports industry continues to flourish and offer vast opportunities to local, regional and international organizations. With the country investing heavily in every sector of the economy, including sports, Qatar is seen as an investment hub that is attracting companies from all around the world to come and be part of the overall growth of the sports industry.
“Qatar’s tourism industry and society in general is witnessing rapid development, which has drawn attention from around the globe to our country”, added Al Mohannadi. “Over the past decade, sports have played a significant role in driving attention, and will continue to do so in the next decade. We continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure that the tourism infrastructure and quality of experience exceed expectations for all visitors.”
QTA’s booth at the ASPIRE4SPORT exhibition welcomes sports fans and guests. QTA representatives are distributing tourism brochures, maps and information about Qatar as well as serving traditional Arabic coffee and dates. In addition, the boothand materials highlight the many and varied sports in which visitors can take part in Qatar, from watersports to, desert safaris, water skiing to sand skiing, horse riding to quad biking, falconry to tennis, golf to motor racing, and more.
Qatar has rapidly become the sports capital of the region due to its success at attracting international sports events. Over the third quarter 2013, Qatar experienced increased tourism across all sectors. GCC visitors increased by 16.6% over the same period 2012, and international tourists increased by 7%. QTA has an important role to play in developing a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar so that tourism becomes a significant factor as a part of the national economy.