*More than 4,000 cruise passengers welcomed across Qatar’s landmarks
Mega cruise ship MSC Splendida, which can carry 4,363 guests, arrived at the Doha Port On Wednesday, making its maiden voyage to Qatar.
The second member of the MSC Cruises family sailing to Doha, the mega ship is due to make five more calls throughout the 2017/18 season.
A delegation of senior representatives from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Qatar Ports Management Company, Mwani Qatar, Hamad International Airport (HIA) and the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) Immigration Department welcomed the ship's crew and passengers who visited several landmarks in the country.
“Qatar is fast becoming a more mainstream destination for cruise ships, as evidenced by the growing number of mega ships docking in our ports,” QTA’s chief tourism development officer Hassan al-Ibrahim said. He added that they expect meeting the growing demand for authentic Qatari experiences through QTA’s work with the private sector, providing new and enriching tourism products.
QTA's Hassan al-Ibrahim (second, right), along with other Qatari government officials, welcome a senior member of MSC Splendida.
Al-Ibrahim noted that the Doha Port Redevelopment Project, which is well underway, sets Qatar on track to grow its capacity for cruise tourists and become a turnaround port. Once complete, he said the port will be a permanent cruise terminal and tourist hub, allowing two mega cruise ships docking simultaneously. Cruise tourism is projected to attract more than 500,000 visitors to Qatar and generate QR350mn annually by 2026.
Following extensive collaboration between MoI, Mwani and QTA, the guests benefitted from a recently introduced disembarkation procedure – brought into effect last season – that ensures all passengers to leave the ship within an hour and begin enjoying their day-trip. MSC Splendida’s guests were able to select from a variety of activities, choosing to enjoy desert safaris and a relaxing day on the beach, cultural tours around Qatar, shopping tours, or traditional dhow boat cruises.
“Growing Qatar’s share of cruise tourists is a significant part of our strategy to diversify source markets,” said QTA’s chief marketing and promotion officer Rashed al-Qurese. “Though the season has started recently, our year-to-date figures for 2017 already show a 6% increase in European visitors compared to last year.”
“By sampling various elements of life in Qatar in a short space of time, cruise tourists are also becoming our best ambassadors, helping us to promote Qatar as a destination for authentic experiences in our key source markets,” he added.
MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato said they are committed to support developing the cruise industry in the region, citing “a growing demand from our guests globally as they seek new and exciting winter cruise destinations.” “With the arrival of MSC Splendida, which has been freshly fitted with some of our latest consumer-centric technology and product innovations, guests will be able to explore and enjoy even more the rich culture and heritage of Qatar as well as the wide range of modern leisure activities that Doha has to offer,” he added.
At 333m in length and 66m high, MSC Splendida is one of MSC Cruises’ most modern and elegant ships and measures the equivalent of three football fields. The ship was considerably refurbished and upgraded while in dry-dock in early December 2017.
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