‘World-Class’ Attractions Coming Ahead Of World Cup, Says Qatar Tourism COO

There’s a lot of buzz about Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. New tourism projects, including hotels and attractions, are under construction in advance of the football championship. I asked Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer of Qatar Tourism, to explain the appeal of visiting Qatar.

The pace of growth in Qatar is staggering. Last I checked, you have 100 new hotel and hotel apartments under construction. What is fueling all of this development?

As we gear up to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we are expecting to welcome more than 1 million visitors, so an extensive tourism development is underway to meet the needs and budgets of every type of traveler.

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When I tell people I’m planning to visit Qatar, the first thing they mention is the weather. They say, “Avoid the summer.” Even the people I’ve met in Qatar say it’s really uncomfortable in June, July and August. How do you get people to visit a place where the average summer temperature is in the triple-digits?

Qatar enjoys year-round sunshine, and while summer temperatures may be hotter than travelers from the United States and other countries have experienced, there is an incredible range of activities to do even during those months.

The other thing is – Qatar in summer is a dry heat – which is much more bearable than, say, the humid heat you will experience in Florida. One needs to experience it oneself and see that it is actually not that hot, and life moves to the evening and nighttime in the Middle East when the sun is not shining.

So what is there to do indoors?

Qatar has several world-leading spa and wellness locations such as ESPA Spa within the Mondrian Doha, The Sharq Village Spa and Sisley Paris Spa at W Doha – the largest Sisley Paris Spa in the world. There is also a range of malls to visit, including Al Hazm Mall, Mall of Qatar, Doha Festival City and Galleries of Lafayette.

Travelers looking to immerse themselves in Qatar’s culture can visit one of our many entertainment attractions like Quest Doha, which has the world’s tallest indoor rollercoaster and the National Museum of Qatar, Museum of Illusions and museums at Msheireb Downtown Doha.

How did Qatar do during the pandemic?

The health and safety of residents, citizens and travelers is the top priority. The Ministry of Public Health is monitoring cases in Qatar and around the world, implementing relevant measures to ensure a safe experience for all, and we will continue to follow their guidance and advice.

Despite the pandemic, Qatar has added new hotels, an indoor theme park called Quest Doha, an outdoor water park, and new shopping centers since 2020. What’s the goal?

Qatar is constantly evolving to ensure visitors have a seamless and memorable trip, and we look forward to welcoming travelers to the country.

Over the last 24 months, we have been busy welcoming a range of new hotels, resorts, restaurants, activities and major leisure projects. This will make Qatar the fastest-growing destination in the Middle East. In doing this, we aim to increase travel and tourism’s contribution of GDP to 12%.

What other events, besides the World Cup, are coming to Qatar?

Last year, we announced that Qatar would be hosting world-class tournaments and festivals such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Doha Winter Wonderland and Geneva International Motor Show over the coming years.

I think one of the main concerns that people have when they come to the Middle East is safety. Qatar has a few programs, such as Qatar Clean, and the contact tracing app, Ehteraz. How do those programs reassure visitors?

Qatar continues to implement world-class health and safety measures. Programs such as Qatar Clean enforce the highest standards in hygiene and cleanliness, with rigorous procedures in place to ensure the safety of customers. We are happy to say that all Qatar Tourism-licensed hotels are “Qatar Clean”-certified.

Ehteraz, the official contact tracing application for the State of Qatar, provided by the Ministry of Public Health, aims to protect and safeguard the health of citizens, residents and visitors and supports in preventing and reducing the spread of Covid-19.

As you experienced, everyone is required to have Ehteraz and show a green health status to enter the country and enjoy Qatar’s hotels, restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and activities.

And Qatar already has a reputation for safety.

Yes, Qatar was ranked the world’s third safest country in 2021 by Global Finance magazine in July, which based its analysis mainly on countries that have effectively managed and prevented Covid-19 outbreaks. These measures, coupled with our current vaccination rate of 86.7% of the total population receiving two doses of vaccine, help Qatar continue to protect residents, citizens and visitors from Covid-19.

It is worth noting, too, that in terms of crime and general safety, Qatar was ranked the safest country in the world by Numbeo last year and has been for some time.

Many destinations offer mobile apps for tourists, but I was intrigued by the Visit Qatar app. According to the description, it’s part of a digital transformation strategy and uses cloud-based Adobe Experience Manager capabilities to deliver a “rich and data-driven, curated experience.” What does that mean to the average visitor?

The Visit Qatar mobile app is a great tool for travelers to experience and learn about Qatar from the tips of their fingers.

The app offers 360 degree and panoramic views of iconic sites and landmarks along with personalized recommendations of nearby attractions and points of interest. It allows users to get a preview of what they will experience in Qatar while having access to an extensive festival and events calendar. Users can also create a shortlist of favorite locations and landmarks to visit with a map assistant and discover recommendations based on user preferences.

Qatar is fortunate to have one of the world’s best airlines, Qatar Airways, and an award-winning airport. How does that help you promote a destination like Qatar?

We are lucky to work side by side with the world’s best airline. For those coming to visit Qatar on Qatar Airways, the experience starts from the moment you step on the plane. Qatar Airways, which I’m sure you are aware, was voted the world’s best airline for the sixth time at the Skytrax World Airlines Awards 2021. This proves the world-class experience offered by Qatar Airways.

In addition, travelers will arrive at Hamad International Airport, which was recently recognized as the best airport in the world at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.

What do you say to prospective visitors who have misgivings about the region’s ideology?

Everyone is welcome to visit Qatar, and as per all Middle Eastern countries, we just ask guests to be mindful and respect the local culture and traditions; something that is common practice anywhere in the world when you travel and you are the guest.