Eight stadiums, 64 enthralling matches, 1.4 million fans, 12 years of preparation and a $220 billion grand sporting event. The 2022 FIFA World Cup put the spotlight on Qatar as it worked to diversify its economy by focusing on the tourism and sports technology sectors.
More than two months after the curtain came down on the football tournament, two questions remain: how is Qatar using the attention it gained? And what does the future look like for its developing sectors?
Before the World Cup, Qatar’s tourism report for the first half of 2022 showed nearly a million people visited the country from abroad. The overall attendance at World Cup matches was 3.4 million, the Qatar News Agency reported.
Even after the World Cup buzz settled down, the country registered a “healthy growth” of visitors, with 3,559,063 people arriving on flights in January 2023, air transport statistics released by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority showed. It marked a 64.4 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.
Qatar now aims to attract six million visitors a year by 2030 and increase the contribution of the tourism sector to its gross domestic product from 7 per cent to 12 per cent.
Doha was recently recognised as the Arab Tourism Capital 2023 by the Arab Tourism Organisation.
The Qatar government is “particularly focused” on attracting tourists from outside the Middle East, said Nada Farouk, founder and chief executive at Turismo, an innovation-driven tourism platform.