Qatar Tourism Authority Launches New Tourism Project “Samana”

In cooperation with Gulf Helicopters and the support of the Ministry of Transport and Qatar Armed Forces

Doha, Qatar: Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has today launched a new tourism project named Samana (Our Skies), which provides helicopter tours and sightseeing in and around Qatar. The launch event was held at the headquarters of Gulf Helicopters at the old Doha Airport.

The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport; Mr. Moussa Ahmad Hassan, Djibouti’s Minister of Transport and Equipment; His Excellency Abdulaziz bin Mohammad Al Noaimi, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority; His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority; Mohammed Ibrahim Al Mohannadi, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Helicopters; and Ibrahim Hassan Al Asmakh, Chairman of Regency Group Holdings.

The new tourism project will see helicopter tours organised to view Qatari sites. QTA has created this new touristic attraction and developed the idea with support from Ministry of Transport and the Qatar Armed Forces, and it will be operated by Gulf Helicopters. QTA also reached a partnership agreement with Regency Travels, which expressed an interest to promote and sell this experience through its offices.

The event began with a speech by the Minister of Transport, followed by remarks by QTA’s Chairman, and finally a speech by Gulf Helicopters CEO.

“Tourism is one of the most important sectors connected with the transport and communications industries. There is a positive relationship between the two sectors. The more efficient and developed the transport sector, the more efficient and developed the tourism sector becomes. Consequently this boosts Qatar’s economic development and is in line with the projected national vision 2030.”said, His Excellency Jassim Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport.

Al Sulaiti praised the Ministry’s efforts as exemplified by QTA, Gulf Helicopters, Qatar Armed Forces, and other stakeholders, which cooperated all together to create a new product, namely, the “Samana” helicopter tours.  His Excellency noted that the idea of using helicopters will open up a new tourism avenue, as flying in helicopters has become an experience that tourists favour.

“The importance of launching this new tourism project lies in strengthening the partnership between the public and private sectors with the aim of introducing groundbreaking tourism products that upgrade tourism and turn a visit to Qatar into an enriching and special experience by carrying out unique activities.”, said, His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA.

“The ‘Samana’ project’ will continue to attract leisure travellers to Qatar. This will boost Qatar’s national tourism strategy towards 2030, which seeks to increase the ratio of visitors who are seeking leisure tourism in Qatar from currently 27% to 60% of all visitors by 2030.” Al Mohannadi, added.

The Regency Head of Sales, Ayman Al Qudwa made a presentation about the procedures of organizing the aerial tours, explaining that tourists and people in Qatar will experience an unforgettable view of the remarkable landmarks that Doha has to offer all from the sky.

Al Qudwa informed that the tours will be conducted every Friday-Saturday weekend with two tours each day. The morning one will be from 0900 to 1200, and the afternoon one will be from 1500-1800.

The tours will be held in one of the GHC helicopters, knows as Bell 206L3 for 4 passengers.  This helicopter is one of the most successful helicopter designs in the world. They are used for civilian purposes and are safe and luxurious.

“Today after the preparations we celebrate together the start of the helicopter tourist tours project, “Samana.” This project recently saw the light thanks to the consistent personal support of His Excellency the Minister of Transport and His Excellency the chairman of Civil Aviation Authority, and the persevering work of a joint team from QTA and Gulf Helicopters. It is possible now for citizens, residents, and tourists to take their families on unique helicopter tours in the skies of Doha.“ said, Mohammed Ibrahim Al Mohannadi, CEO of Gulf Helicopter.

At the end of the ceremony His Excellency Minister of Transport, QTA’s Chairman, the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Gulf Helicopters CEO and Regency Tourism CEO conducted an aerial tour of Qatar by the helicopter.

Tourism data for the first half of 2014 showed that the Qatari tourism sector is still showing strong performance. Figures from QTA’s mid-year report proved that the tourism sector recorded growth compared to the same period last year.

Total visitor arrivals to Qatar grew by 8% in the first half of 2014 reaching 1.42 million.  More than half a million GCC nationals (536,264) visited Qatar, representing 38% of tourists.

In the first half of 2014, the average hotel occupancy rose from 67% to 74% compared to the same period of last year. Total revenue at 4- & 5-Star hotels increased by 4%, reaching QR 1.98 billion, while total revenue at 3-star hotels reached QR 82.51 million in a growing area of the hotel market.

A diverse range of events and activities in Qatar, along with increased regional and international presence during the first half of 2014, contributed to growth in the leisure tourism sector.

Gulf Helicopters is a subsidiary of Gulf International Services, Q.S.C. Gulf Helicopters has provided helicopter services since 1970 and operates with companies throughout the Middle East, India and North Africa.  Gulf Helicopters has its own in-house maintenance facility with a team of highly qualified and experienced engineers undertaking fleet maintenance and modification work.  Gulf Helicopters is also an AgustaWestland Authorized Service Centre and AgustaWestland Authorized Training Centre, being one of the first helicopter companies to have its own AW139 FFS to support its own operations and for third party use.