A three-day tourism marketing training workshop organized by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) last week at the Millennium Hotel in Doha. Seventy industry representatives from countries around the region including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and the Arab League took part in the sessions.

The program kicked off with a brief welcome and opening remarks by Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority. “The world has recently seen a number of changes and crises which have adversely affected the tourism industry and as a result, both government and private sectors have shouldered a heavy burden,” said Mr. Al Nuaimi. “Experience has shown that intensifying efforts in tourism marketing and developing promotional schemes have largely contributed to remedying repercussions of any crisis or challenges facing the industry.”

Mr. Amr Abdel-Ghaffar, Regional Representative for the Middle East UNWTO, followed Mr. Al Nuaimi’s addressed the attendees: “International tourism is one of the most important social and economic phenomena in this day and age as a billion-dollar industry generating economic growth, investment, employment and foreign trade.”

Mr. Abdel-Ghaffar added, “Our region’s remarkable performance in the tourism industry over the past decade is the result of sustained efforts on behalf of national tourism administrations to improve domestic tourism infrastructure and strengthen promotion and marketing activities.”

“We expect that tourism in the Arab world will far surpass anticipated growth in international tourism, and as such, the UNWTO understands the importance of supporting national administrations dedicated to tourism marketing.”

Ms. Sandra Carvão, Deputy-Chief, Market Trends and Competitiveness, UNWTO and Mr. Mike Fabricius, Marketing Specialist and UNWTO Consultant were on hand to facilitate most of the sessions. The topics of the sessions focused on the importance of market research, evaluation of strategies, market segmentation, the importance of differentiation and how to make the most of the various marketing tools for maximum impact.

Participants of the workshop included organizations in the hospitality and services industry in Qatar and across the GCC region including 5- and 4-star hotels, tour operators, events organizers, venues and important tourist sites as well as representatives from the ministries of tourism from around the Middle East.

Ms. Nawal Brada, 2nd Secretary of the Tourism Department in the Economic Section of the Arab League commented, “This is an ideal time to discuss the issues around this topic. In recent years, the demand and offers have changed as related to tourism. The promotional activities around tourism in our country and the region can no longer be based on the past but need to look forward into the future.”

Ms. Amany Farouk, the Marketing Coordinator for Qatar National Convention Center remarked, “I am very glad to have the opportunity to attend this workshop and meet other marketing representatives from the region.”

This marketing workshop was part of a series of training plans that have been undertaken by the Qatar Tourism Authority in its quest to further human resource development in the tourism sector. QTA adopted this comprehensive training plan as a result of a UNWTO summit on the challenges of human resources in tourism, which was held in Doha in April 2009.