Doha Port recently received two mega ships – Celebrity Constellation and MSC Lirica – both for the first time, an obvious sign of Qatar’s increasing ability to cater to the rapid growth of cruise tourism in the country. The two cruise ships carried a total of 6,000 visitors, welcomed by officials from the National Tourism Council (NTC) and Mwani Qatar. Similar dockings are expected to take place four more times this season.
With Qatar’s 2018/19 cruise season well underway, the tourism sub-sector is witnessing some of its most significant developments this year. Throughout this season, which runs until April 2019, Doha Port is expected to receive a total of 42 cruise ships carrying over 140,000 visitors, representing more than 100% growth from the past season.
NTC official Jawaher Al Khuzaei said that this year’s cruise season brings Qatar closer to its targets for this important tourism sub-sector. She said that the development of Doha Port and its ability to receive two mega ships simultaneously puts the country on track to achieve high growth rates in cruise visitor arrivals.
The NTC continues to implement its strategy through its international agreements with the world’s largest cruise operators to include Qatar on their winter itineraries, while working with local partners to develop exciting tourism offerings and experiences that help boost the country’s position as an attractive destination.’
This milestone development comes as part of the NTC’s strategy to enhance Qatar’s cruise tourism sector and firmly establish Qatar’s place in the world’s winter cruise map. This, in addition to a massive development project that has been recently completed to expand Doha Port to accommodate more than one mega ship at the same time. Logistical and technical processes at Mwani Qatar’ Doha Port were also enhanced to expedite cruise ship servicing and ensure the prompt running of their tour schedules.
Parallel to the Doha Port development, the Ministry of Interior and the Customs Department are working to allow for swift disembarkation procedures, allowing visitors to enjoy Qatar’s unique tourism attractions and experiences as soon as they arrive. Destination management companies (DMC) and Mowasalat are also providing the necessary means of transportation for the large numbers of visitors arriving at the port.
NTC recently signed an agreement with the German Aida Cruises and the Italian Costa Cruises to place Qatar on the two companies’ winter itineraries as well as to cooperate in designing special promotion packages for passengers. As part of the agreements, luxury ship AIDAprima and Costa Mediterranea are expected to make their maiden trips to Doha Port this season. Between them, the two cruise lines will bring up to a quarter of this season’s passengers to Doha.
The cruise season began in early October with the arrival of cruise ship Boudicca, carrying over 800 visitors. More than 15,000 cruise passengers have visited Qatar since the beginning of the season.
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