How is the competitive landscape among Doha hotels changing in light of the new and upcoming hotel openings?
VETRY: The competitive landscape of the hotels in Doha is expected to double in the next five years. I think with the development in the country this is sufficient. Many people are questioning this, but if 10 years ago you were to look at Qatar and the number of hotels today, you have thought this is impossible. It is actually moving with the ratio of the population of Qatar. Competition elevates the level of service, brings new business to the country, and brings business from different sources into the country. So overall, it’s a positive theme for a developing country.
What have been the trends in ADR (Average Daily Rate) over the last two years in Doha? Where do you see ADR heading in the future?
VETRY: Generally speaking, the whole world has experienced a downward trend on the rate. We as a company believe that instead of bringing down the rate, we add in value to the rate. The customer feels this value when they come to The Ritz-Carlton hotels. However, there has been a downward trend and I think this trend will continue for another couple of years then we expect it to go back up, around 2015 or 2016, as we get closer to the 2022 World Cup. Generally speaking, we have seen steady growth, and Qatar and Dubai have been the leaders when it comes to rates. Today, we are very competitive internationally with all the offerings and all the benefits of the city.
What can be done to further develop the MICE segment in Qatar?
VETRY: It’s happening as we speak. If you look at the development of different sectors in Qatar, for example education, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, you can see the development and naturally we are seeing more new groups coming to Qatar. It is becoming an attractive location for many partly due to the development of the new convention center by the Qatar Foundation, the extension of the exhibition center and also the fact that many hotels have large sized ballrooms. Plus, a lot of first timers coming to Qatar like the country and come back to it. We've seen a lot of new companies here. Even regionally speaking, we’ve seen a lot of groups changing and including Qatar as one of the destinations. Whereas some companies would go to Europe or Asia, they’re now considering Qatar, particularly in months like February, March, or April, when the weather is very nice. So the development is happening as we speak. This country is on the right direction, on the right trend. There are so many new things taking place, such as restaurants and attractions, and over the next 10-11 years it’s only going to get better.
What have been the key sources driving arrivals into Qatar?
VETRY: We have actually two very strong sources in Qatar. The first one is Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways is today one of the leading airlines in the world when it comes to services, the age of the planes and the destinations. This year they will announce their 100th destination. So this has given the country a huge amount of promotion. The second thing is that the Qatar Tourism Authority has been active in promoting Qatar. We have done road shows globally. Last year we were in Europe and we visited 5 or 6 cities with a group of hotels and different sectors and we followed that up with road shows in Asia. We found it very helpful because we are promoting the country. All this is now followed by the 2022 World Cup, which has helped us get even more attention to the country. A year ago if you asked someone where Qatar is, many people would hesitate. Today, if you ask where Qatar is, they will tell you exactly where it is and that they are waiting for 2022. So the business is changing. Today, 85% is business, mostly oil and gas, and 10-15% is leisure, but that is changing. We are getting a lot of interest from regional countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. We’re getting a lot of first timers coming to Qatar and they are really surprised by what they see because it is the next step, it is the next city. If you enjoy Dubai, you will also enjoy Qatar.
How will the awarding of the 2022 World Cup impact the future of tourism in Qatar?
VETRY: Just the announcement of the 2022 World Cup has boosted transportation and construction, I can only imagine by how many percent. It has given the country confidence and has helped a lot of small and large business import and export. I think we have not seen the best years yet, those are yet to come. The future looks very positive. The government does a great job distributing the business throughout the businesses. They have developments completed timely and tastefully. They have a master plan for 2022, and it’s not just building stadiums, but also restaurants, hotels, roads, tunnels, public transportation. These are all the types of businesses that will come to the country and this will boost the business. I do see a strong next 10-12 years.
Generally speaking, the whole world has experienced a downward trend on the rate...(In Qatar) I think this trend will continue for another couple of years then we expect it to go back up, around 2015 or 2016, as we get closer to the 2022 World Cup.
How will Qatar hosting the World Cup affect neighboring countries?
VETRY: Any activities in the region, whether it is a grand prix, a camel race or the MotoGP, will naturally promote the region. This is very positive for us. There are people that come to the region and stay three or four nights in Dubai, or Bahrain, or Doha. It is something that, indirectly, the neighboring states do for each other to promote the region. So, I see 2022 positively and all of the region will benefit from this.