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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Qatar graduates first batch of tour guides amid push for more visitors

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Hamad International Airport

As part of its new tourism strategy, Qatar has begun training residents as tour guides to work in key locations that will include Hamad International Airport, the country’s border with Saudi Arabia and the new port.

A total of 15 Qatari and Qatar-born students have just graduated from the 16-week-long program, which has been designed and run by Stenden University Qatar (SUQ) for the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). SUQ specializes in tourism and hospitality management.

The guides, who are required to be bilingual, study subjects including the history of Qatar, knowledge of local tourist attractions, general tourism information, English language proficiency and other tour-guide essentials. Trainees are required to be Qatari, or in the case of expats, be born here or lived here for a long time.

The graduates were also drilled in advanced interpersonal relations to be able to engage properly with the increasing number of tourists now coming to Qatar.

Congratulating the guides at their graduation ceremony earlier this week, QTA’s Chairman Issa Al Mohannadi said in a statement:

“Tour guides are a key touch point on the frontline of tourists’ experience of Qatar. With Qatar’s growing tourism industry, it is crucial that we show tourists the beautiful reality of this country.”

Timeline

No timeline has been set for when the guides will begin working at HIA and other points of entry into the country. But a spokesman for QTA told Doha News that a desk would likely be set up at the airport “soon.”

He added that a second group of trainee guides is expected to be accepted into the program after Ramadan.

HIA is Qatar’s busiest location in terms of dealing with international visitors. Some six million people traveled through the now-closed Doha International Airport in the first quarter of this year, and this number is set to increase with the new airport, which opened in April.

Meanwhile, under-construction Qatar’s new port, whose first phase is due for completion in 2016, is expected to serve as another hub for international visitors. The existing port is also slated to be repurposed into a cruise terminal.

When completed, the new port will be one of the main routes for the raw material imports that make construction of Qatar’s numerous infrastructure mega-projects possible.

Tourism strategy

The inauguration of the new guides comes as Qatar re-positions itself as a key regional tourism destination, particularly for visitors from other Gulf countries.

Its festivals held over Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are particularly popular, while venues such as Katara and Souq Waqif regularly attract international guests.

In February, QTA launched its new national tourism strategy, which aims to attract some seven million visitors to Qatar by 2030 – a significant increase from 2012 figures, when there were 1.2 million travelers.

At the same time, QTA has also pledged to increase the number of people working in the tourism/hospitality industry exponentially, forecasting that figure to reach 127,000 in the coming 16 years.

In contrast, there were just 25,000 people working in this sector two years ago.

Thoughts?

8 COMMENTS

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Turbohampster
Turbohampster
7 years ago

I hope their training included how to instruct tourists to properly “Reflect their respect”

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Turbohampster

Having gone through the new airport a lot recently I did chuckle at the increased number of people wearing less than conservative clothing. I don’t think that the reflect people could cope with seeing this. It cannot be stopped as these people are transiting.

Mili
Mili
7 years ago
Reply to  Turbohampster

Wow, what is the average age for foreigners commenting here, 12?
Grow up and behave yourself.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  Turbohampster

Oh my gosh I must have been reading your mind!! As I was reading this article I had the exact sentence come into my head almost verbatim. It all just feels so bi-polar to me.

I can’t figure out what Qatar wants, do they want 7 million international tourists (and apparently to be a stop for cruises per the article…) or do they want to create fear in tourists with flyers insinuating they are breaking the law (which they aren’t) and noting a hotline number to report violators?

Neither direction is right or wrong, and Qatar has the sole authority to pick which one of the bi-polar objectives it chooses; but the one thing that is a fact is that Qatar CANNOT HAVE BOTH.

Qatar would be wise to pick an objective and stick with it and inform the public of that direction. Not only would it let foreigners know what to expect (vs. mixed messages) it could potentially save Qatar Tourism Authority the $54 billion they plan to spend on increasing tourism only to see it fail due to other objectives driving tourists away.

Guest
Guest
7 years ago

How to join the 16-week-long program?

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Details should be announced after Eid, is what we’re told.

Doha Hack
Doha Hack
7 years ago

Who arrives at the airport and immediately seeks out the services of a guide to show them around the city/country? It would seem to be a better idea to have these tour guides at hotels or malls.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago

Tourists or just family and friends visiting residents? I don’t know anyone who would come to qatar as a tourist. I mean it has the reputation as one of the world’s most boring cities. Coupled with the reflect your respect and the fact you can’t even have a poolside beer the average tourist from the west and even the east wouldn’t even give Qatar a thought. The figures represent visiting families and family members who live here and do visa runs.

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