World Cup–specific infrastructure, such as stadiums, would be repurposed as schools, hospitals and similar establishments, but some of them would be rebuilt as new communities, according to Philip Dickinson, Vice President of International Markets, Qatar Tourism, told Zawya on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market 2022.

“It’s an accelerator for us, something like a springboard. All those infrastructural changes, [such as] 100 new hotels being added leading up to the event, new attractions, new metro system, etc. will act as a springboard,” he said, adding that “In terms of tourism, the World Cup is a fantastic opportunity to grow visitations into Qatar, and we have aligned our strategy with the changes happening.”

Qatar has identified 14 priority source markets, including India, in which it will actively pursue consumer marketing campaigns to keep tourist awareness going once the FIFA World Cup comes to an end, a senior official at Qatar Tourism has said.

“We will also be working closely with Qatar Airways, tour operators, OTAs, travel agencies, etc. to get more saleable products. For instance, we want tourists from these source markets to be considering coming to Qatar for stopovers, for point-to-point leisure, MICE and weddings,” Dickinson said.

He noted that Qatar had 2 million tourist arrivals in 2019 and aims to increase that to 6 to 7 million tourists by 2030.

“The fact that 3.4 billion people will be watching the World Cup will also be an opportunity to change the perception of the world not just about Qatar but about the region,” he said.

Dickinson said that driving tourism goes just beyond event hosting. “It’s about longer and deeper sports partnerships that drive awareness of the destinations. We want to take full advantage of the World Cup to drive tourism and carry the legacy forward. We are therefore not going to sit on our laurels. We are ramping up our marketing campaigns in our source markets and executing partnerships with travel agencies to keep the momentum.”

He noted as well that although the World Cup is the biggest sporting event happening in Qatar and the region, the country has also hosted over 600 sporting events in the last 10 years.

“It’s not just high-profile events, but we are hosting niche sporting events as well. For instance, Qatar is hosting the world kite-surfing championship in Qatar because we have perfect conditions for wind surfing. To complement that, we are building a resort dedicated to wind surfers,” he said.

(Reporting by Sunil Kumar; editing by Seban Scaria)