From the Gulf to the World: The Future of Tourism

From the Gulf to the World: The Future of Tourism

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Tourism. You would have heard a lot about tourism the last couple of days. If you've been watching these panels and listening to the explanation of how the implementation of the respective visions of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are going. Diversification is a big part of that. And leaning into sectors like tourism is a very important pillar and that diversification strategy. So we're going to talk about the future of tourism in the Gulf region and not just specific to each individual country, but also this concept of collaborative tourism.

So where multi destination tourism comes in amongst the countries in the DCC and then of course the role the private sector is going to play in helping to bring those flat track plans rather to fruition. So, Your Excellency, I would love to start with you and and my earlier panels. I also brought up the World Cup, but I think it is and it was a very important event in terms of putting Qatar on the global map as a tourist destination, as a destination for sporting events. What comes next? I'm very happy to be with you, Jomana, and my brother Ahmed. And so still on

actually the World Cup and Qatar played like I'm Qatar being pioneer by hosting such a mega event and the region we can see we can see that the affect of hosting the World Cup in Doha. How affected the tourism and the whole region. And it's showcasing our beauty, our culture, our. Art museum and every everything is in the Gulf are ready to host such event. And you can see the other countries as follows and targeting such mega event. And this reflects also the our leadership how considered tourism and importance of tourism to diversify our economy as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

They are mostly known for oil and gas on this natural resources. But now we believe in tourism. How much can contribute to our GDP and how much we can show to the world? This spot is what to explore.

And we are. This is the right time for our region. And is it contingent on holding these type of big events or is the goal for there to be regular stream of tourists coming in irrespective of hosting these fantastic mega events like the World Cup? You know, we are now working on upholding the benefits of hosting the World Cup and build on top of that and develop our strategy and regulations to to be able to enable this private sector and tourism to grow and and and receiving more people. You see, after the pandemic, the GDC, which was one of the fastest growing and tourism to recover very quickly and the demand is very high. We have high connectivity airlines. So and Qatar is Qatar Airways as award winning airlines or and our neighbors in the Emirates, a lot of hard and upcoming area up here. So it's a growing up. Yeah.

Your Excellency, I had a look at the Saudi numbers. Tourism's current GDP contribution is four and a half percent, and you aim to get that to 10% by 2030. If my numbers are off, please correct me. How do you get from four and a half

percent today to 10% in 2030? Thank you, Jomana. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank. The government of Qatar and my friend Abdul Aziz for inviting me to be a part of this very important forum. We got from 3.5 to 4.5 in about two years. I think in seven years we can get to five. Travel and tourism is a very important industry. Globally.

It represents 10% of the global economy and 10% of the global jobs. And this region share of this market is about seven and a half percent. The GC region and I believe our fair market share is 10%. And therefore we realized all of us in the region that this is a very important sector and Saudi Arabia, it is one of the main pillars and vision 2030 and we are committed to take this sector contribution to both job and economy to 10% by 2030. How to do that? We are we have already put all the plans and we are growing very fast and we are putting in the pipeline to build more than 250,000 kms accord. As an example. In 20 years they have

established 41 hotels and in the next seven years they will add 45. They will double their capacity in Saudi Arabia in terms of number of buildings, number of hotels and and expanding the roads, airports. We are adding King King Salman Airport with 120 million capacity like Hamad Airport here in Qatar. And we are establishing a new airlines, three airlines for point to point. We are making the access to Saudi Arabia

very easy through online visa and more direct flight from the main cities globally that produce tourists to the main cities and in Saudi Arabia and building and investing and major destinations, I would call it cities, you know, like Neom, Red Sea. Good day. That area with announced investment of more than $800 billion in the next seven years. All this and many others will help the country to get it. So the contribution of tourism to the economy to to 10% by 2030 and we aim to more than that. I believe we like Qatar, put all the plans to grow this very important sector and to capture our fair market share of of this very important industry. This is a very important industry also

for jobs. And the last five years we added 250,000 jobs to to to the sector. 50, 60% of these jobs were captured by women. And this is very important.

And and more than 60% were captured by youth, young people. I think this is one of the best sectors for for job creation. I think I believe we in the DCC have everything to create another industry. We've been successful in the last decades to create the oil and gas, the petrochemical industries and financial services and so on, so forth. And I think we started, all of us to to invest in this very important industry for the future and to unlock the value of the values that we have collectively. And the JCC What are the main tourism geographies that you're looking to attract? Were you looking to get tourists from? Well, actually, we we run a very simple formula 2080 watch out of the countries that export the 80% of the tourists in terms of number. And the number is quite risky.

You know, we focus on value or spend more than the number. And therefore, you know, we have started to see some countries, and most recently Japan a few days ago are complaining about Overtourism. But we want to focus on the countries that the GDP per capita is higher than others, countries that is within six hour flight. And we are both of us are located in a very strategic geographical location where within 8 hours flight we get access to almost 40% of the global population. But we don't have the problem of, you know, being far away from the main hubs. And therefore we China as a target, Europe is target the emerging middle class.

And India is a very good target for all of us. We we have the plans to reach to these target markets and attract them for various reasons, whether to visit their family and friends who lives in our countries or to come and perform their religious duties, or to come and enjoy the sport and the leisure activities or the conferences like this conference. So I was I had the privilege of speaking to Sebastian Bach in January 2021. And if you remember, that was peak pandemic ish around January 2021. It was a very difficult time for the hospitality sector.

And I've got to say, to give you credits, you were very optimistic about the future of the sector at the time. And one of the questions I asked you, I went back and watched our interview. One and a half billion people travelled in 2019, the year later of Sage, up by 70%.

And you said to me, I wouldn't be surprised if we see that number come back in 2023, possibly 2024. Last year the number was 1.3 billion. So give us a sense of how quickly things have come back and also why the growth has been so much quicker in this part of the world where we are right now. It's simple because it is the best industry in the world. I'm not biased or anything. No, but I you know, I'm provoking you a

bit, but I mean it. And I'll tell you why I mean it. Travel, tourism. And you both said it rightly. It is 11% of the GDP in the world. It is the second largest industry on this planet behind media and the telecom industry. It is 12% of the jobs in the world work for travel and tourism.

It is the only industry where you provide inclusiveness, diversity, chance in life, underprivileged people and give them a chance. The only one because you don't need to go to university to probably work in a hotel. We are alone. Every year we hire more than 100,000 people every single year. 60% of them never went to university, never had a job before. So and I really believe seriously, this is probably the best medicine to prevent conflict. Is travel and tourism. Because when you discover somebody else's culture, somebody else's heritage, if you learn from differences, then you probably have greater respect.

So and it's an industry which is super easy to super easy to predict because it's unwilling to one factor demography. When I was born, the planet had 2.8 billion people. Today, close to 7.8 billion in one lifetime. You added 5 billion people and you took

over 2000 years to grow to 2.8 billion people when I was born. So the more people exist on the planet, the more you're going to have emergence of middle class population as you do have in India and China and many places. Those people have the wherewithal to travel both. I mean, they start domestically and then they go abroad. So you just have to be a welcome host. Those people have the right infrastructure, have the right basically people working for you.

It's a blessed industry. We've been growing at 3 to 5% for the last 50 years. Of course, we had Hiccup 2008 and Covid and I was on my knees when I was with you in 2021. We almost died. But I was telling everybody, Wait, it's only going to be a matter of two or three years. And the recovery today, I'm guaranteeing you the next 20 years, the growth will be 5 to 7% per year, not 3 to 5. Why?

Demography emerging middle class and airlines. We are extremely linked to the numbers of new planes being ordered. And you're going to watch in the next five years. Between now and next five years, India will change our industry profoundly, both within India and outside of India. And you innogy CC In Southeast Asia, you

will be by far the best beneficiaries of the Indian new emerging middle class travelers because as they do the Chinese, the Chinese, 80% of Chinese, they stay in Asia-Pacific, India, they will stay within 5 hours radius flying. They're going to go Southeast Asia. If they go east, if they go west, they're going to go to Egypt Energy, Sisi and then North Africa.

It's a it's a fabulous industry. The problem is it's a human capital industry. So it's tough to operate and you have to accept the risk. So I actually spoke to the CEO of Rio there, Tony Douglas, a week ago, and he was very excited about the possibilities that becoming a commercial operation of 2025 is going to open up. Before we move on, I just want to ask you one question also, because we spoke about this off. Off stage is the importance of the

luxury sector and how you think creating a tourism package around the luxury space is going to be more appealing to people who are looking to start exploring this part of the world? Your Excellency, you said it a minute ago. We have to be very careful here. When you start and you open your country to travel and tourism, usually you start with the economy midscale affordable brand, because that's what people need domestically and that's what people could afford when the trouble. The more mature your country's coming, then you go up the scale and you go to luxury and lifestyle because then you have a better value spend per visitors. So South Africa today is 80% economy midscale. If you go to some mature countries ten years after the fact is luxury upscale. So it depends on the early stage or the later stage of those countries.

Your Excellency, a follow up question to that. Given the scale of how much growth we're going to see and perhaps a question for both of you, and I do want to get on to the next topic, which is the collaboration, but maybe very quick answer on whether you think there's going to be a problem in creating or finding enough talent for the jobs that will be created in the future, as we have here in Qatar, since tourism become one of the pillars of our industry and aligned with Qatar Vision 2030, we had, we set a goals and target. It's to increase our contribution to GDP by 12% by 2030. Number two, to increase the employment in the sector. We cannot achieve the numbers we want unless we enable the rules and regulations and the training for to to increase employment in the sector. And there is a huge potential.

And the market here in Doha, we can grow this up. We set our plans to reach this point and this will lead for increasing the domestic spend within the country. This is why we see now tourism become very important, not only in Qatar and also you can see the impact in Saudi Arabia and how much employment they have for a recent few years. We have university teaching hospitality and tourism. We have important tourism services. Service Excellence Academy, which assure the service excellence and all the and their aspects.

And. And. And we bring this up by some modification in the rules and regulations. Your Excellency, do you foresee an issues? This is a very important question. Our industry will be facing two challenges. One, digitalisation fight, I believe, and I am pushing very hard not to digitalise the whole journey because the tourists wants to interact with the people. When you get into the Black Taxi in London, you speak with the driver and you get a flavour of of of what is going on in London and you meet with the reception or the concerns, you can discuss various things and therefore we have to be very careful what to digitalize and what to keep with, with the human and the manpower.

The manpower is extremely important. You can find the same buildings at the same Fairmont Hotel and Doha or Hong Kong on London and the same systems and the same food. However, you cannot find the same people. You you want to use your local people. The the only resource that will convert and convey your local cultures to your visitors are the people, the local people. And therefore, we looked at this seriously in Saudi Arabia, and we have a big population, 70% below 30 years old. They don't want in the past to

join this sector. We increase the starting point of their salaries to two, to be at the level of the financial sector, to make it to make the sector as attractive. And we started to provide them with a career path. In the past, they don't see themselves working on this sector for forever, but they come to this sector and then they join the government and different jobs. And we have been spending investing actually $100 million every year to train 100,000 people every year.

And most recently we have launched a program with a core group to train the young Saudis. We want them to be in the business. We want them to to work on the airlines and in the airports and to drive to open and to to work on the hotel and the hospitality. And this is and to become the tour guides and so on and so forth. This will enrich the journey and the experience of the visitors to the country. Human capital is important. I was extremely happy when I visited the Red Sea, the first resort and the Red Sea. It's the Sand Regis and the six senses. I know you are you going to open hotels soon? But in the in the in the in the sand. Regis,

there are 300 people working on the hotel. 150 of them are young Saudis, boys and girls. I took a photo with them and I was so happy to see them, you know, serving their guests and transfer and transferring their the local culture and enriching the experience of of of our international visitors. From my ear, from my and yes, here on the JCC, we have something I think it's unique and worth to showcase it. We don't have Eiffel Tower. We don't have Colosseum in Rome. We have we have the genuine Gulf people hospitality and authentic hospitality. And the best way to show this to the

world if we have this employment, our our countries and Saudis are locals or who lives in Doha and Qatar and have the same identity of hospitality and the generosity, this can promote and give the visitor the full experience and and very well treated here. So we are promoting our hospitality and wouldn't be through this. Let me ask you about the state of collaboration amongst DCC countries and what are you doing? What are you doing in that space to tailor make a tourism destination that is multi destination, not just specific to Qatar but around the GCC as a whole? Have there been discussions among our look looks behind you? AMR I'm literally look behind.

No, I'm touch. Here we are in Doha, in Qatar, and they are very nicely showing a picture of Al-ula in Saudi Arabia. Yes. This is a beginning of what we just

asking. Yes. Yes. This is one of our recent collaboration with Kingdom Saudi, and especially between Qatar Tourism and Ministry of Tourism and Saudi. We launched a joint program called Double Discovery. We are promoting Qatar and Saudi and one campaign, and we identified a few markets to launch this campaign. And we can see how it's going up and

picking up. And people would love to come and have double experience in one region, one hour away by flight and have different cuisine, different culture. But if you take you all in one country, this is taking us to the benefits of collaboration, the competition. You see it in the region now we see it. It's a cumulative effort. And and of the for this year, we might

see the unified GCSE visa which. Also will contribute to the number of visitors to this region and His Excellency. I think, Jomana, this is also a very good question. I look at the word in three books the East culture, the West culture and the Arabian culture. And, you know, to demonstrate the real Arabian culture and hospitality, it's the JCC. And therefore, we we hosted the ministers of tourism meetings in Al-ula in 2021, and we came up with the declaration that we proposed to the leaders to approve a one visa to make the travel between the two countries seamless, like Europe. And the leaders were very kind to

approve it. And last last year and handed over to the Minister of Interior's to discuss the details and to come up with the unified system. I think, you know, the first step is to make the travel between the DCC countries seamless and then to start working on our joint packages and joint flights and joint promotion promotion programmes to, you know, put this emerging destination in the global travel map. Yeah, and this is what we are doing. We started with Qatar and this is going to be a pilot. Actually, we started with Qatar during the World Cup where if you get a visa you can access the two countries and the programme or not to buy it.

It was extremely successful and we will we will build on this. But definitely this is a very important region. We can offer a lot. We are in Saudi Arabia developing a full

year destination. However, in the winter more than 2 billion people living in a and a temperature of around or below zero where they can swim here and they can enjoy the sun in our winter. Yeah, the vaccine I've got maybe just one minute, but I do want to ask you from your perspective, what type of potential would this unlock this collaborative tourism drive? Well, for me, it's the for our core. And for many of us, JCC is the fastest growing region on the planet. It is for travel and tourism far beyond. We are already 25% better than 2019. The rest of the world is in between minus five to plus five.

And it's not by accident. And the reason why that is and don't ask me to choose between Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar. I wouldn't dare. I came in I came in Doha in 1991, so like 33 years ago. So and it is my job is to promote the region, but also to explain that what you're going to be discovering in Doha and in Qatar is very different from what you will be likely discover in the UAE and also very different from Saudi. Some of them are ahead on culture, some of them being a head on heritage.

Some of them are ahead on gastronomy. It's a different bird is worth spending seven days within three countries. So for me, it's it's a true blessing. My own mind, what I'm adding when I said not coming by accident and I'm not basically giving something you want me to say, but I when I'm so surprised and bluffed is leadership in each of those regions. Why is it going that fast? It's because there is a plan, there's a vision, there's ambition, there is destinations, there is financial muscle, there is manpower. All of that has been structured.

Program develop different pace. But you don't have this in many other continents. And I wish we had more of this in Europe. Thank you.

Thank you, Your Excellency, is And thank you, Sebastian, as ever, Jomana.

2024-05-18 19:29

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