FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Qatar towards the last quarter of this year, will be a milestone for the region. However, Qatar Tourism has a more elaborate game plan than just FIFA itself. Berthold Trenkel, Chief Operating Officer, Qatar Tourism, shares with TRAVTALK their future plans for the destination.
What will be the role of Qatar Tourism for FIFA World Cup 2022?
The tournament, FIFA World Cup 2022 is a great opportunity for the region and for Qatar as the biggest sport event in the world, for me when we talk about the Qatar tourism role, what we are doing before, during and after the tournament. We are obviously not in charge of the tournament itself, but the tournament is a prime advertising spotlight like the super bowl of football, but it is 28 days long. How do we showcase the country and how do we make the best out of it because all the global media attention will be on the country and as you know after a big event like this the challenge is how you keep up your occupancy and how do you grow your business, but for Qatar I would say that we are the best kept secret in the Middle East. It is an immense opportunity as it is free advertising to earn media opportunity to Qatar also for the region is actually quite tremendous and I see that it is a spring board that would catapult and grow tourism in Qatar. After all, we are also growing our hotel capacity, we are adding 48 per cent additional rooms to the current stock, so we are literally going from 32,000 keys to 48,000 keys by the time of the tournament.
How will Qatar gear up to showcase the destination and its attractions?
There are many new attractions, I will start with the classics, Museum of Islamic Art has been undergoing renovation and will open just in time for the FIFA World Cup with a completely new exhibition and the other is the National Museum of Qatar opened just before pandemic but never had the opportunity to showcase all the things to the International visitors. On a lighter note, you have a number of other things such as the winter wonderland will open in November just in time. We will also have ongoing construction for Qetaifan Projects fully owned by Katara Hospitality – Qetaifan Island North featuring state of the art waterpark, luxurious hotels will be an entertainment complex. It will consist of hotels and a new state of the art water park and you can even go back to other attractions like Quest, world’s tallest indoor roller coaster and theme park in the heart of the city, you can look at the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort, which is at the south west corner of Qatar bordering towards Saudi, which is even now getting footfalls from Saudis as the borders are open and the Covid-19 restrictions have been eased. There are many things that are the tip of the iceberg. In terms of what people can do, where can they go, there are many options. Some of them will be of temporary nature, especially from Katara or Qatar museums, and also activities that Qatar Tourism will provide just around the World Cup time.
Qatar is also known for its high-end retail outlets, what can the visitors expect in terms of shopping?
As an international visitor, shopping is another experience not to forget. The new airport is undergoing extension and adding another 160 retail outlets and brands to their offering that will happen around quarter three. Then we just saw the opening of a huge high end luxury mall Palace Vendôme Mall in April this year with the best brands of the world with a French setting. The destination is amazing as it includes three hotels and a water fountain and it is a completely new experience for Qatar and the Middle East. The latest opening is part of Doha Banyan Tree complex that will open around September this year.
Could you share the game plan post FIFA?
My intentions are beyond the World Cup on quarter one of 2023, what are all the festivals and things we will be doing for those visitors who did not make it to the World Cup but have heard about Qatar and all excited that they would want to come and explore in this new destination.