Hosting Events Like World Cup Reshapes Western Perception Of GCC, Says QT Chairman


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #Qatar 2022 Joelyn Baluyut | The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Qatar Tourism Chairman, H E Saad bin Ali Al Kharji, stressed the significant influence of hosting major events such as the FIFA World Cup 2022 and Expo 2020 Dubai, alongside other key gatherings hosted by Saudi Arabia, on reshaping Western perceptions.

Speaking at the 8th Meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Tourism Ministers held at Waldorf Astoria Lusail, Al Kharji noted that these events had prompted greater respect for the principles and culture of the region among Western audiences.

“There is no doubt that the success of hosting the World Cup in Qatar 2022, as well as the Expo in Dubai and the major events hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, contributed greatly to changing the concepts of the West, and even prompted them to respect our principles, and our culture and the desire to learn about it through books.”

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Highlighting the interconnectedness of Gulf tourist destinations, Al Kharji emphasised that the success of one destination in attracting visitors reflects positively on the entire region, inviting travellers to explore other offerings within the Gulf.

“The success of any Gulf tourist destination in attracting visitors and providing a distinct tourist experience is a success for the rest of the destinations, and a renewed invitation for the visitor to learn more about other destinations in the region.”

Despite geopolitical tensions, Al Kharji revealed that the Gulf tourism sector welcomed over 36 million tourists in 2022, showcasing resilience and continued growth. He specifically mentioned Qatar's hosting of more than 700,000 visitors in January, driven by sporting and tourism events like the AFC Asian Cup.

Al Kharji also underscored the importance of the Gulf Tourism Strategy 2023-2030, adopted by the Supreme Council of GCC States, as a means for collaborative efforts in the tourism sector. This strategy aims to bolster tourism sectors across GCC countries, aligning with economic diversification strategies.

The Chairman noted the need for ongoing cooperation and integration among Gulf countries to leverage shared successes and advance discussions on implementing the Gulf Tourism Strategy. Key initiatives include the introduction of a unified tourist visa for GCC countries, joint marketing campaigns, and knowledge exchange programmes to enhance tourism cooperation and support sustainable economic development.

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