Island Sky, a Noble Caledonia ship, will be the first to dock in the Old Doha Port as part of the Cruise Arabia Alliance, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced. The cruise ship is expected to arrive on 18 November after stopping in Oman, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The announced comes as QTA and its counterparts across the Gulf Co-operation Council intensify efforts boost intra-GCC tourism through various avenues, topped by cruise tourism. Cruise Arabia, a regional alliance established to create exceptional cruise itineraries that showcase the best of the Gulf’s landscape and attract tourists from around the world, includes Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Muscat, Dubai, Manama and Doha. The Arabian Gulf is among the world’s top three winter cruise destinations, where sunshine, majestic desert landscapes and futuristic cityscapes meet.
Hassan Abdulrahman Al Ibrahim, QTA’s Chief Tourism Development Officer, commented on the announcement:
As we prepare to receive Island Sky we reinforce the message of collaboration delivered by the Ministers of Tourism and Chairpersons of Tourism Authorities in their meeting last week. We expect this docking to mark the beginning of increased activity in the cruise tourism sector, especially as we gear up to host the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum at the end of this year.’
Al Ibrahim added that the intra-GCC tourism indicators for 2015 have been positive thus far, showing that visitors from the Gulf comprised 45% of total visitors to Qatar up to September, with a 22% increase from the same period in 2014. He added that GCC residents and their companions make up 12% of visitors, amounting to 280,000 visitors up to the end of September 2015.
Doha will host the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum on 7 and 8 December 2015, where cruise line executives with government representatives and industry stakeholders from the ports, tourism, immigration and security departments will gather to discuss the future of cruising in the Arabian Gulf.