Too often, national airlines and tourism authorities only measure success by examining their own bottom lines, but the time has come for them to work together more closely on driving their growth as mutually dependent sectors, according to HE Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority.
In his remarks at a forum on tourism and aviation, Al Mohannadi explained that despite it being “well-established that the tourism and aviation sectors depend on one another to grow," rarely does this translate into clear and transparent policies that join tourism and aviation efforts.
He continued: "In Qatar, we take a macro view of the joint sectors of tourism and aviation and work closely with our partners at Qatar Airways to ensure that we support each other’s development. This comes from a recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of each sector and from forging a clear path to meaningful cooperation to help each other flourish.”
The UNWTO/ICAO High-Level Forum on Tourism and Air Transport for Development, which explored ways to strengthen the common path and cooperation of aviation and tourism, took place as part of the 21st UNWTO General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia.
The discussion was moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest, and saw participation from Dr. Fang Liu Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO, who urged aviation and tourism authorities alike to move beyond the issuance of statements and to begin implementing national, regional and global policies that promote the growth, not hindrance, of these sectors.
“I call on the tourism ministers and delegates from over 115 countries here with us today, to recognise the fundamental dependency between air transport and tourism, and to work with your colleagues in government and the private sector to enable their mutual growth. There can be no doubt that travel and tourism generate growth, jobs and investment, and as we head towards the milestone of 2 billion international travellers by 2030, we must work hand-in-hand to ensure we achieve this objective,” he commented.
The connectivity brought by air transport is at the heart of global tourism development, especially as more than half of international tourists - amounting to 1.1 billion in 2014 - arrived to their destinations by air. Based on ICAO’s latest forecasts, aircraft departures are expected to almost double from 33 million in 2015 to 60 million by 2030.
Qatar’s aviation sector has fast-tracked its development in recent years to help it tap into this substantially growing market. The globally celebrated Hamad International Airport, operated by Qatar’s flagship airline, currently receives around 30 million passengers a year, making it a true gateway to the Middle East and beyond. The large number of passengers stopping in Qatar, whether as a final destination or on their way to another destination on Qatar Airways, contributes significantly to this growth.
“The Qatar Airways brand, recognised globally as a five-star airline, entices travellers and peaks their interest in Qatar as a destination,” said Al Mohannadi.
“QTA and Qatar Airways capitalize on this by collaborating on stopover products, such as Doha city tours, which allows people to step out of the airport and onto a bus that shows them around Qatar’s landmarks in the time they have between flights. We also collaborate with Qatar Airways on more sustainable tourism products and cultural destination marketing, such as the Qatar International Food Festival, now a mainstay of the country’s annual events calendar.”
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