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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Al Baker: Backpackers not welcome in Qatar

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Complaining that backpacking travelers are simply looking to “lie on the beach and spend as little as possible,” the head of Qatar’s national carrier has reiterated the country’s preference for business and family tourists.

CEO Akbar Al Baker expressed the sentiment while speaking during a press conference in Australia this week to launch Qatar Airways’ new Doha-Adelaide route.

“We want to attract people of a higher standard,” Al Baker said, according to the Herald Sun.

“We like to attract all kinds of tourists as long as they are there for relaxing times, want a unique experience, want to see the culture and are very keen on the arts side of tourism.”

Target markets

Qatar has made no secret about its preference for high-end tourists in the past.

Presidential suite bedroom
Presidential suite bedroom

In 2011, former Qatar Tourism Authority chairman Ahmed Abdullah al-Nuaimi said that his country was deliberately investing in high-end hotels, convention centers, museums and other attractions:

“We don’t want people to come for a $50 room to lie on the beach all day and walk around with a backpack and shorts. These are not the type of people we’re targeting,” al-Nuaimi said at the time.

Qatar current tourism strategy, released in 2014, still mentions the country’s desire to attract “well-off families” and “experienced high-income travelers.”

However, the optimal mix of visitors to Qatar also includes younger individuals and “price-sensitive” tourists, the strategy states.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Additionally, tourism officials have called for more affordable hotels to be built in Qatar, which is currently dominated by four and five-star facilities.

Several mid-market hotels are currently under construction, including an Ibis near the existing Radisson Blu as well as a Hilton Garden Inn elsewhere on C-Ring Road.

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