Stenden University Qatar (SUQ) will host in conjunction with Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company (ARTIC), part of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani’s Al Faisal Holding group, and the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI), the first major international tourism conference of its kind in Qatar – Tourism in Tomorrow’s World: What the future holds for tourism in the region. It will be under the patronage of the Prime Minister HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and in partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).

The event was launched today (Sunday) by Professor Robert Coelen, VP International and Executive Dean of Stenden University Qatar; Hassan Al Ibrahim, Director of Strategy Development at QTA; and Nicolas Frangos, Chief Operating Officer of ARTIC.

The dynamic two-day conference, held at the Renaissance Doha City Centre hotel on 23 and 24 February 2014, will cover every sector of tourism and hospitality – from family tourism to business tourism, cultural, sun and beach, sports, education, health and environmental tourism. It will address relevant cultural topical issues such as that of political tourism following the Arab Spring, as well as new industry developments and trends in the GCC and factors which can affect tourism in the region.

The purpose of the conference is to underline the importance of tourism for Qatar and the region, focusing on Qatar’s recent tourism growth and showcasing its authentic culture, identity and heritage and focus on sustainability.

The conference, which will become an annual event, will feature internationally renowned tourism experts as keynote speakers including United Nations World Tourism World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) Chairman Eng. Issa Al-Mohannadi and top local and international tourism experts, academics and futurists. Speakers from Arab Spring areas will also be invited to discuss the challenges facing “political” tourism in the region.

On a global scale, tourism is significantly one of the largest industries in the world and contributes 9% of the world’s GDP and provides 260 million jobs, with one in 11 being tourism-related. QTA has predicted there will be up to 127,000 hospitality jobs in Qatar by 2030.

As Qatar emerges as a tourism hub in the region – with 81 hotels currently in Doha and another 110 under construction – the conference will spotlight the importance of the tourism industry as a career of choice.

In addition, with Qatar’s endeavors to diversify its economy in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, and its extensive construction and infrastructure development, hotels are becoming the virtual ambassadors for Qatar’s tourism industry as business people from across the world flock to Qatar.

Stenden University Qatar (SUQ), an international professional hospitality, tourism and international business management college, is at the heart of these developments as it trains the next generation of leaders in hospitality and tourism. The university can boast a remarkable track record with 98% of its graduates being employed in prominent hospitality positions within four months of leaving the university. SUQ is also planning a new MBA and Executive Hotel Management Masters programme, in conjunction with prestigious American universities in 2014.

Internationally-accredited, SUQ has strong links with all aspects of the tourism industry in Qatar and has developed a number of partnership initiatives such as QTA’s tour guide program that aims to promote tourism jobs as career option amongst Qataris. SUQ also runs internship and career opportunities at ARTIC hotels and service management training programmes for hotels to help with the country’s efforts to improve the quality and standards of tourism in Qatar. Its small business and retail management courses support Qatar’s wider enterprise. Current SUQ students will take part in panel discussions throughout the conference and will act as ambassadors during the event.

The conference will also showcase major players in tourism and hospitality locally and internationally.

Professor Robert Coelen, VP International & Executive Dean of Stenden University Qatar, said:

This dynamic conference is the first of its kind in the region and will attract the world’s leading experts in hospitality and tourism to discuss important key trends, and the crucial role Qatar is to play in this sector in the near future.

He continued:

Hospitality and tourism will be an increasingly important aspect of Qatar’s economic diversification and it is vital we ensure our young people are properly educated and trained to take on meaningful careers in hospitality and tourism. Stenden University Qatar has an unrivalled reputation for the placement of its students in some of the top tourism and hospitality organisations in the world.  Working closely with government, hotels and businesses throughout Qatar we want ensure that young people working in the industry are of world-class standards with the ability to become the leaders in their fields in the future.

Mr. Hassan Al-Ibrahim, the Director of Strategy Development and the head of the tourism development committee, said:

QTA’s strategic priorities include developing the tourism sector through stakeholder engagement and inclusion in implementing the national tourism strategy 2030 and hence we have developed strong relationship with Stenden University Qatar through various initiatives.

He added:

Sectorial human capital development is also a priority of QTA. With the amount of hotels and other tourism products and services currently under development, Qatar’s hospitality industry will be able to offer young people ambitious roles in international groups to provide a meaningful career path for life.

Recently a team of SUQ students and faculty members participated in the international Bahrain Universities’ Model United Nations conference in November 2013. Two teams of SUQ students – Team High Flyer and Team Fast Rider – also took part in the Bedaya Shell Enterprise Business Simulation Challenge, where Team High Flyer placed third out of nine participating universities. The students will be honored for their achievements in a ceremony to be held later this month.