In the Name of Allah, the most Merciful
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Guests
Peace, mercy and the blessings of God be upon you.
I would like, from the outset, to welcome you all to your second country, Qatar. We are delighted to participate in this official celebration of World Tourism Day in cooperation with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
This year’s celebration under the name of “Sustainable Tourism – An Instrument for Development” is an opportunity Qatar to discuss ways to enhance the contribution of tourism to achieving the 2030 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
The celebrations are particularly important in Qatar this year following the completion of both the implementation of the first national strategy 2011-2016, and the completion of the second national strategy 2017-2022, particularly as it comes at a time of increasing efforts to promote Qatar’s position on the global map, especially after the importance of the tourism sector in Qatar has emerged as being one of the basic tools for achieving sustainable development. Therefore, the issue continues to grow despite the economic and security challenges in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the last two decades, the Tourism industry has become one of the most important engines for economic and sustainable growth in many countries. Tourism development is no longer a choice or a luxury. It is a necessity for development, diversification of the national economy and the creation of jobs. In addition, it is a tool for bridging the communication and cultural gaps and for disseminating the values of tolerance and openness.
From this perspective, the tourism industry receives great emphasis within the Qatar National Vision and its national strategy, which recognises the importance and capacity of the tourism sector to play a vital role in supporting the national economy.
To keep up with Qatar’s comprehensive development, the State has taken an unprecedented series of actions and measures in terms of openness, which will enhance the performance of the tourism sector, and make Qatar one of the most open countries in the region with our commitment to our identity, values and principles.
These actions include:
First: Free 96-hour transit visas for all nationalities.
Second: Application and issuance of electronic visas for all nationalities.
Third: Qatar visa exemption for citizens from 80 countries with other countries to be added in the future.
Fourth: Application of the electronic notification system for visas or residence permits from the following tourist destinations: (United States, United Kingdom, Schengen, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries) which has been in force for some time.
There is no doubt that these actions will be a milestone in the development of Qatar’s tourism industry. However, it can also be said that it takes us directly to the next phase of the national strategy for the tourism sector.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are aware that the tourism industry cannot grow at full strength unless concentrated efforts are made by all parties and related sectors. Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive review of the national tourism strategy to ensure that Qatar’s needs are met and that it maintains its identity.
Hence, I applaud the team work of several sectors in the country, which resulted in the development of a unified vision and a road map towards achieving a fiveyear plan approved by the Supreme Council for Economic and Investment Affairs based on the following:
First: Accelerating the completion of tourism projects that will encourage tourists to visit Qatar from all over the world.
Second: Activate policies that will promote growth in this sector by opening up new markets such as China, India and Russia and strengthening our presence in Europe, America and Asia, diversification of tourism products and investment opportunities for the private sector.
In this context, the tourism sector has been reorganised through the establishment of new entities that will oversee the implementation and review of the national tourism strategy. The National Tourism Council will be at the forefront of this system, which will include representatives from the authorities involved and the private sector and will establish executive branches that will contribute to the achievement of our national vision in the field of tourism.
Achieving the strategy objectives is our responsibility as citizens and residents of the land of this benevolent state, because it is the only way to ensure the pursuance of our unique identity and our economic and social needs.
Enhancing visitors’ experience in all aspects of their visit is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders. An initiative will therefore be launched to improve the tourist experience at the national level, including the development of a competent administrative unit and the preparation of a training programme for unit leaders to provide them with best practices. At the end of each year, an annual forum will be held and a national award will be launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar. Tourism creates the atmosphere to improve the tourist experience at the national level.
The current growth in Qatar enhances future optimism of the tourism industry, so there is an opportunity for innovators, investors, entrepreneurs in the country and investors from abroad to take advantage of this by enhancing the tourism experiences we can offer from now on.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Certainly, it is a great honour for you to be with us today to witness this new breakthrough, and this partnership reflects the constructive international cooperation between us, which helps us to benefit from the opinions and experiences in other countries in achieving the goals to promote the tourism industry.
In conclusion, I would like to thank His Excellency Dr Taleb Al Rifai for all his years of service as General Secretary of the World Tourism Organisation, where we have seen beneficial cooperation and partnership between the Organisation and the tourism sector in Qatar.
I would also like to thank all those who took part in this event, and I welcome all of you once again to your second country, Qatar, hoping that this celebration will achieve the desired goals.
May peace and God’s mercy and blessing be upon you.