Posted on February 19, 2014

Katara Hospitality, Qatar’s leading hospitality organization, will be the diamond sponsor of the ‘Tourism in Tomorrow’s World’ conference, which takes place on 23rd and 24th February 2014 under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

Organized by Stenden University Qatar in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), the conference will feature top international tourism authorities and industry professionals including Issa Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA, who will be revealing the strategy for development of Qatar as a world-class tourism destination. UN World Trade Organisation Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai will speak on developing sustainable tourism in line with UNWTO’s globally recognized Code of Ethics for Tourism.  Government Ministers from the GCC countries and the Arab League have also shown an interest in attending the conference.

Qatar Museum Authority’s Cultural Tourism Unit will present its latest strategy for engaging visitors in the country’s rich culture and history. To promote the state as an authentic, cultural tourism destination, the Unit is opening up access to Qatar’s historical sites and archaeological gems. Many of these – from Barzan Towers to UNESCO World Heritage Site Al Zubarah (pictured) - have been recently restored with visitor centres and first-class facilities to welcome tourists and provide an insight to life in Qatar before the oil and gas boom.

Katara Hospitality’s Chief Operating Office Christopher Knable will deliver a keynote speech on the theme of Hotel Development in Qatar – a key factor for Qatar as an emerging hospitality and tourism hub of the region, with 81 hotels currently operating in the country and another 110 under construction.

Other speakers from Qatar and beyond will address crucial issues of travel and tourism now and in the future, particularly examining key global trends and how these may influence the development of hospitality in Qatar and the wider Gulf region.

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Amongst such trends are the growth of Hala Tourism, which a Zawya report estimates was worth $137 billion (QR499 billion) in 2012, excluding Hajj and Umrah.  Interestingly the GCC made up 31% of the total Muslim travel expenditure.

A recent Amadeus Travel Report of the same year identified the burgeoning global population as a trend fuelling international travel, with the UN predicting the world population will be eight billion by 2025. The report also sees globalisation of business as driving global travel, with the world economy expected to be 80% bigger in 2020 than 2000.

According to the UN, there will be 250 million international migrants by 2050, marking a growing global migration trend.  The WTO (World Tourism Organisation) predicts there will be an annual growth rate in Middle East travel alone of more than 6% between 1995 and 2020, due to the globalization of travel and tourism.

The most remarkable trend being forecast is how tourism from the Asia-Pacific region will dramatically explode in the coming years due to rising affluence, especially in China where 40% of the population is expected to enter the middle class in 2020. It is predicted there will be three billion middle-class Asians by 2050 and their per capita income could rise 600% in purchasing power parity equal to Western markets.  While growth in global travel will see the greatest expected growth between 2010 and 2015, the highest growth will be in China at 9.9%.Mintel also predicts significant growth in the travel industry, forecasting the total number of overseas trips by tourists from the world’s top travelling nations will double by 2020, from 433million to 837million.

Robert Coelen, VP International and Executive Dean of Stenden University Qatar, said: “We are very grateful to QTA as partner of this dynamic conference and to Katara Hospitality, QMA Cultural Tourism and Beverly Hills for their sponsorship. This event is the first tourism powerhouse of its kind in the region and will feature international experts from the industry and academia, discussing what the future holds for global, regional and local travel, tourism and hospitality. They will look at the latest emerging trends and forecasts and how these may impact Qatar, the Gulf and the wider Middle East. These will serve to underline Qatar’s tourism strategy for the coming years.”

“As Qatar continues to diversify its economy, so hospitality and tourism will play an increasingly important role. At Stenden University Qatar we are committed to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and training to empower them in their future careers in hospitality.”

Stenden University Qatar will be central to Qatar’s tourism developments as it trains the next generation of leaders in hospitality and tourism with major research projects to produce findings on best practice for the sustainability of tourism in Qatar and legacy events. Stenden Students will work as conference ambassadors, meanwhile third-year students will attend the two-day event as part of their course work.