More than 50,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Qatar aboard 32 ships during the 2016/2017 cruise season, providing a further fillip to the country's tourism industry.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) on Tuesaday said they are preparing to receive such a large number of visitors during the coming cruise season, which starts in October and ends in April next year.
“The surge in tourists arriving on Qatar’s shores offer a great opportunity for the entire tourism industry in the country,” said a QTA spokesperson, adding they want tourists to experience a memorable stay.
QTA is also collaborating with Mwani Qatar – Qatar Ports Management Company, the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Office, and General Customs Authority, as well as tour operators and shipping agents to create a supportive framework for businesses to introduce new products and services that cater to cruise visitors.
“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 spokesperson said.
He added that the number of ships has tripled while the expected number of passengers has increased by more than 1,000% from the 2015/16 season.
All cruise ships under 250 metres in length will dock at the Doha Port, which is currently being redeveloped to become a full-time cruise terminal and tourist attraction.
Ships over 250 metres, including the 333-metre MSC Fantasia, will dock at the Hamad Port until the Doha Port's redevelopment is complete.
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 to 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 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.
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