Qatar Tourism aims to host British agents on mega-fams by the fourth quarter of 2021, as long as the destination is taken off the UK’s red travel list.
The tourist board is also planning a host of other UK trade initiatives, plus a consumer campaign, to promote the destination ahead of next year’s FIFA World Cup.
Earlier this month Qatar reopened to international travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 without the need to quarantine.
Philip Dickinson, Qatar Tourism’s international markets vice-president, said he was “perplexed” by the destination being on the UK red list because Qatar has low infection rates and half the population has been double-vaccinated.
The tourist board hopes to host 2,000 agents from across 16 core and emerging markets in Europe, China, India, Australia and the US.
Alongside fam trips for UK agents, there will be competitions, marketing and incentives, as well as new content on Tawash, the country’s trade training portal.
The tourism board is also in discussions with tour operators which feature the Middle East to expand the range of holidays available, as Qatar Airways prepares to raise its capacity from the UK.
The country has ambitious tourism growth targets under the ‘Qatar National Vision 2030’, which aims to increase annual visitor numbers from about two million, before the pandemic, to six or seven million by 2030.
In 2019, there were about 133,000 arrivals from the UK which is among Qatar’s top four source markets.
There are 125 hotels currently, with 100 planned to open before or just after the World Cup, which kicks off in November 2022.
Qatar will also open a new cruise terminal in Doha next summer, and Dickinson hopes more cruise lines will use it as a home port rather than a transit destination.
“All eyes will be on Qatar with the World Cup and we want to keep up that momentum through consumer campaigns and trade engagement,” said Dickinson.
He said the trade is “savvy and well informed” but awareness levels among consumers are lower so the tourism board needs to bust myths about the destination.
“Flights will ramp up again when Qatar is not on red list so we are keen to get out and do roadshows; and we will have a big presence at World Travel Market London,” said Dickinson.
“We are very committed and engaged with UK market. It is key to have the advice of a travel agent – now, more than ever, highlights the value of an agent because of the daily changes and restrictions.”