The National Sport Day returns this year amid increased activity in the tourism industry in general and sports tourism in particular, with the latter being one of four main areas identified by the next phase of Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2017-2023 to achieve the growth and development goals of the Qatari tourism sector.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) was able to strengthen the status of Qatar over the past years as a sports tourism destination that attracts the attention of sports federations, clubs, athletes and fans alike.
The interest in sports tourism is due to the ability of sport to unite the people and create a language of communication and interest shared by individuals of different nationalities, which is the core of the message “Qatar Welcomes the World.”
In addition, sports tourism highlights Qatar’s capacities and facilities, and is also one of the tourist attractions that QTA is working to promote and increase its diversity in accordance with its strategy to diversify tourism’s exporting markets. Sports tourism has witnessed remarkable growth and development at the level of events, partnerships and results.
In this regard, Rashed al-Qurese, QTA’s chief marketing and promotions officer, emphasised that QTA continues its efforts to develop the sports tourism sector by support and constantly benefiting from major sporting events and competitions that attract wide participation due to their ability to promote the tourist and cultural attractions of Qatar, and enhance its international standing by attracting fans and athletes from around the world.
QTA adopts a special strategy for the development of sports tourism based on four main axes, and promotes competition in four sports fields.
The four axes include traditional sporting events that provide a unique experience from the heritage of Qatar, which encourages visitors to attend and participate, in addition to supporting long-standing sporting events in Qatar and benefiting from its audience to enhance Qatar’s position as a global destination for sporting events, which attracts more visitors.
It also includes supporting sports events that see collective participation, strengthening its international standing to attract fans and athletes from all over the world, and taking advantage of Qatar’s status as a centre for the organisation of major sporting events so as to attract leading sports industry experts from all over the world, whether specialists in sports medicine, stadium construction engineers or event planners.
QTA’s strategy to develop sports tourism focuses on four categories of games; traditional games such as football and tennis, heritage games such as camel racing and falconry, mental games such as chess and scorpion, and group games such as triathlon and cycling.
Al-Qurese said that sports tourism is one of the most effective and fast-moving areas. Therefore, he added, the industry is vital for achieving the objectives of the next phase of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, particularly with the easing of visa issuing and waiving the visa requirement for citizens of more than 80 countries, in addition to the easy access to Qatar and any sporting event held in Qatar throughout the year.
Over the past few years, QTA has succeeded in attracting the attention of sports fans around the world to Qatar and highlighting the world-class facilities by holding several local and international partnerships with major sports institutions. Qatar’s winter weather has encouraged many international sports clubs and federations to set up their winter camps in Doha.
Proceeding from the global popularity of football, and since 2012, QTA and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are collaborating in a strategic partnership aimed at promoting sports tourism and leisure tourism offered by Qatar. QTA hosted several tours of PSG teams, including PSG handball team tour in 2014 and 2015, PSG women’s tour in 2015, PSG football team tours in winter 2013 and 2015. It also hosted the winter tour of the club last December, which was attended by all the stars of the team such as Neymar and Cavani. PSG stars filmed a video about Qatar and what it offers to adventure enthusiasts. The video was watched by millions of fans around the world.
Al-Qurese added that hosting the camps of the international teams, and the important matches between the giants of the sport, comes back to Qatar with enormous economic benefit, in addition to drawing the attention of millions to the tourism and sports properties in Qatar. He noted that during the 2016 Italian Super Cup, Qatar recorded more than QR9mn in tourism spending, as every visitor spending a night and a half spends QR1,280. According to the vision of future sports, QTA’s sports tourism strategy provides alternative sports experiences in the field of mind sports and electronic games. In August, QTA hosted the fourth edition of the world championship for mind sports, held in the Middle East for the first time. These sports events are held in closed facilities so that Qatar can demonstrate its ability to host sports competitions throughout the year.
Qatar annually hosts around 80 sports events and world-class championships in many sports fields. Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to be honoured to host the 2019 World Championships in Athletics, 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 World Aquatics Championships. These tournaments provide a unique opportunity for the Qatari tourism sector to benefit from the global audience and provide unique country experiences.
QTA continues its efforts to develop the sports tourism sector in Qatar by supporting local events and raising its international standing to attract fans and athletes from all over the world. In 2018, QTA signed a three-year agreement to support the Ooredoo Doha Marathon. The 2018 marathon saw the participation of 2,400 from 83 nationalities, with 18 world runners participating.
Over the next year, QTA will support more exciting events and market opportunities to attract visitors from around the world.
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