We sat down with Qatar tourism chief operating officer, Berthold Trenkel
ABTA Magazine: What are you focusing on within tourism at the moment?
Berthold Trenkel: Our goal at Qatar Tourism and a pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 is to establish Qatar as a world-leading destination and welcome more than six million visitors a year by 2030. To achieve this, an extensive tourism development strategy is underway as we work to diversify and build our appeal for residents and visitors.
What should agents and travellers be aware of when planning a trip to Qatar over the next 12 months?
Qatar is a fantastic destination for every type of traveller. It is the safest and one of the most cosmopolitan destinations in the Middle East, rich in art, culture and tradition. With a range of assets including world class hotels, restaurants, stunning beaches and a bustling atmosphere, we offer the best of the Middle East all in one place.
Adventure-seekers can enjoy the thrill of dune bashing across the desert, cultural enthusiasts can explore our world-famous museums and galleries, and there is a variety of fine dining options serving local and international cuisine to suit all tastes.
What safety measures are in place in relation to Covid?
Qatar has been at the forefront of implementing world-leading health and safety measures. Last year Qatar Tourism launched the “Qatar Clean” programme, in partnership with Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), in all hotels and sectors. This June all Qatar Tourism licensed hotels were certified ‘Qatar Clean’, meaning they carry the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness with rigorous procedures in place.
Passengers arriving at Hamad International Airport (HIA) undergo thermal screening and temperature checks. HIA was the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a 5-Star Covid-19 Airport Safety Rating by Skytrax, following an on-site audit.
What can agents expect to see from Qatar ahead of the World Cup? And what else can you tell us?
Qatar re-opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers on July 12, 2021 with vaccines that are approved for use by the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar. The new arrangements enable fully vaccinated people to bypass quarantine when returning to Qatar but all visitors – vaccinated or non-vaccinated – are required to undertake a PCR test up to 72 hours prior to travel. With over 80 countries on our visa-free list, Qatar is one of the easiest destinations to visit.
Qatar is constantly evolving to ensure visitors have a seamless and unforgettable trip. With a host of new hotels and hotel apartments, activities and attractions, travellers will discover the country’s unique blend of Middle Eastern contemporary luxury and authentic tradition.
Currently there are over 100 hotels and hotel apartments in Qatar’s construction pipeline on top of an existing 184+ properties. The country is also evolving its transport facilities including the Metro and taxis that make getting to and around Qatar, easy, safe and convenient.
In advance of the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar has invested in exceptional sports stadiums and facilities such as the new Education City Stadium and Al Rayyan Stadium. The longest distance between stadiums is 75km by road, meaning fans will be able to attend more than one match a day and stay in the same accommodation throughout.
Large fan zones will offer a wide variety of food and beverages and will be situated in locations around the country, including a dedicated fan zone opening as part of the new West Bay North Beach project.
What are your plans for trade engagement?
We have recently appointed a new international markets team to cover 20 key markets, including the UK. This will enhance our communication with visitors, tour operators and online travel agencies.
We have been working closely with the UK travel trade and Qatar Airways to promote Qatar as a must-visit destination. In the short term, we’ve been working on product development and agent-training initiatives to ensure Qatar is front of mind. And now borders are re-open we’ll be launching a flurry of FAM trips – inviting key partners from various European countries.