The 2017/2018 cruise season is kicking off in Qatar when the Seaborne Encore docks at Doha Port this week. Due to arrive this Thursday with 600 passengers on board, the cruise ship will be the first of 21 expected in Doha throughout the season, which continues until April 2018.
This year there are five new ships making their maiden calls to Qatar, and for the first time there will be two megaships making calls into Doha Port. The German mega ship Mein Schiff 5 and the Italian MSC Splendida are due to make a total of 12 calls to Doha Port. MSC Splendida, carrying 3,900 passengers, has replaced the MSC Fantasia which called last year, as demand for the region continues to grow. With 13 passenger decks and 66 metres high, it is the largest ship to enter Doha Port.
A mega ship carries between 2,500 and 6,000 passengers, more than triple the capacity of a standard cruise ship. The large number of mega ships arriving this season is set to raise the cumulative number of visitors welcomed at Qatar shores, surpassing the 47,000 passengers and crew recorded in the 2016/2017 season.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said that this continues to be an exciting time of rapid growth for Qatar’s cruise tourism sector.
As we embark on the Next Chapter of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, the growing number of visitors arriving at our shores highlights the opportunities for investors to develop authentic and memorable experiences that reinforce Qatar’s position as a hub to discover.’
QTA is currently in discussion with major European cruise liners to share the latest developments in Qatar’s tourism industry, including the redevelopment of Doha Port into a permanent cruise terminal and tourist hub, which is currently underway. The discussions aim to foster more interest in Qatar as a destination, and to increase the number of cruise liners who add Qatar to their itineraries for the following seasons.
QTA also continues to work with local and international partners to carefully plan, develop and manage the cruise terminal facilities, infrastructure and operations needed to achieve sustainable growth. Once all developments are completed, projections show that the cruise industry has the potential to generate over 500,000 passengers and QAR350 million per annum by 2026.
Cover photo: MV Seaborne Encore (Wikipedia)
For more updates on Qatar’s cruise tourism sector, visit the QTA website at visitqatar.qa.