Qatar to 'redevelop' Doha Port for cruise tourism
December 08 2015 09:24 PM
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By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter

Qatar will ‘redevelop’ the Doha Port to receive more tourists and cruise ships in the future, a senior official of the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said.

"The move is part of QTA’s plan to build and develop more infrastructures in the country to promote cruise tourism," chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim explained.

Gulf Times had reported in January 2014 that Doha Port will be converted into a cruise terminal once the new Hamad Port at Mesaieed becomes operational.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, the QTA official expressed optimism that the Doha Port will soon become one of the leading cruise terminals in the region.

QTA is committed to providing at least 6,000 rooms on cruise ships for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the redeveloped Doha Port, the official said.

According to al-Ibrahim, the new Hamad Port is expected to start operations soon. Its readiness to receive cruise ships was also discussed on Monday in a closed-door session at the forum.

Hamad M bin Mejren, senior vice president, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai Tourism, cited the region’s advantages in maritime tourism saying it is “a well-established infrastructure tourism destination very pleasant in the winter.”

He said the Dubai airport, with a capacity of 75mn passengers annually and catering to some 140 airline companies serving 260 destinations (direct flights), is a major factor making the emirate the home port of cruise ships in the region, by providing easy air access to international passengers.

Mejren noted that they will not compete with other markets such as Europe and South America since the Gulf is one of the unique and winter destinations in the world.

“The secret in our region is that each of the destinations has different things to offer,” he said. “Taking the cruise here, people will discover the Arabic culture and hospitality.”

QTA’s chief marketing and promotions officer Rashed al-Qurese echoed the statement of Mejren saying cruise tourism works well in the Gulf, which is perceived to be a hot climate region.

Besides traditional source markets such as Western Europe and North America, QTA wants to position Qatar for new markets such as India, China and other GCC countries.

“The people in the region are very well travelled and they are always looking for more options,” he added.

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