By Ayman Adly/Staff Reporter
The National Sport Day celebrations have given dhow operators something to cheer about. After what they described as a prolonged dull period, the operators said they did brisk business on Tuesday, when a large number of people gathered at the Doha Corniche to mark the occasion.
Many of those who visited the Corniche that day went for a ride on the dhows, with some of the attendants offering special deals and discounts to woo customers, particularly large groups.
“We have been witnessing a low turnout of customers in recent times even though the weather has been conducive for dhow trips. The number of customers increased a bit on weekends. However, business was excellent on Tuesday and most dhows that had been without work for many days remained busy on National Sport Day,” said a dhow operator.
“National holidays are a good opportunity for us to get more customers. It depends on the dhow attendants to attract customers and offer them good rates,” said another operator.
A quick look at the rates shows that for a short cruise, which last 20-40 minutes, the operators charge around QR40 per person. This, though, may come down significantly depending on the negotiating skills of a customer. The rates may drop to QR20 per adult and less for children.
Another dhow operator observed that business was excellent on National Sport Day, particularly in the morning and early afternoon, as many visitors wanted to enjoy the sunny conditions. On normal weekends, he added, the number of customers was usually the highest during late afternoons and in the evenings.
Meanwhile, some visitors suggested that dhow cruises should include certain facilities and attractions to make them more appealing. These include having a tour guide on board, who can explain the local marine history, as well as entertainment activities.
Some tourists and families also felt that the trip was too short and had little to offer other than just sitting and listening to loud music.
“The trip should have some fun activities to make them more attractive to visitors. Some of these activities could be tailored for children. Otherwise, many people will not return for a trip,” said a French tourist.
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