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Posted On: 27 July 2016 02:38 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:16 pm

Cruise Industry Gears Up for Busiest Season Yet

Ghadeer Ahmed
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Infographic_2015_2016 Cruise Season

Representatives from across the cruise industry value chain have stepped up efforts to prepare for a busy cruise season ahead, with work underway to enhance plans, operating policies and procedures for a smooth and memorable cruise experience.

Working teams from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Mwani Qatar- Qatar Ports Management Company, the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Office, General Customs Authority, as well as tour operators and shipping agents are collaborating to create a supportive framework for businesses to introduce new products and services that cater to cruise visitors.

During the upcoming cruise season, which continues until April 2017, 32 cruise ships are confirmed to call at Qatar’s ports with an expected 50,000 passengers on board. This marks a three-fold increase in the number of ships, and an increase of over 1000% in the expected number of passengers, from the 2015/16 season.

A QTA spokesperson confirmed that all cruise ships under 250 metres in length will dock at Doha Port even while it undergoes redevelopment to transform it into a full- time cruise terminal and tourist attraction. Ships over 250 metres, including the 333- metre MSC Fantasia will dock in Hamad Port until the redevelopment is complete.

He added, “The surge in tourists arriving at Qatar’s shores offer great opportunity for the entire tourism industry in Qatar. Working hand-in- hand with our partners, we will ensure all our efforts, whether those related to infrastructure, visa processes, or tour operations, are well coordinated for an optimal tourist experience.”

The 2015/2016 season wrapped up in May with the berthing of the Seabourn Sojourn, the last of 10 ships to arrive in Doha. Three of the ships had made their maiden voyages into Qatar, namely the Japanese “Peace Ship”, the German MS Artania, the American MV Seabourn Sojourn. More than 4,000 tourist visas were issued to cruise passengers throughout.

The Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 (QNTSS) identifies the cruise industry as a focus area in coming years, with the outlook for Qatar to become an emerging cruise destination exceptionally bright. The GCC is among the top three cruise destinations worldwide during the winter months, offering tremendous opportunity for Qatar’s tourism sector and overall economy.

QTA recently signed an agreement with TUI Cruises through which the German cruise liner will be including Qatar in its itineraries for the 2017/18 season, bringing seven cruise ships with up to 17,500 visitors to Qatar.