Cruise ship Boudicca docked at Doha Port, Qatar’s gateway to marine tourism, yesterday to signal the start of the 2018-19 cruise season.
With a total of 43 cruise ships carrying more than 140,000 visitors expected to dock at Doha Port during the season, which will continue until May 2019, this is set to be the busiest season since the development of the cruise tourism sector in the country, Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar) has said in a statement.
Measuring 206m in length and 25m in width, Boudicca brought more than 800 visitors, including crew members, to Qatar’s shores yesterday.
Their travel documents were processed in a short time thanks to new measures adopted by Mwani Qatar and the strategic plan put in place by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), supported by its partners Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), the Ministry of Interior, General Authority of Customs and destination management companies.
The new measures ensure that visitors disembark smoothly and receive convenient services to enhance their experience and promote Qatar’s position as an attractive tourism destination in the region, the statement notes.
Ten new cruise ships, including the 345m-long Queen Mary 2 – which accommodates nearly 4,000 passengers, including 1,253 crew members — will make their maiden trips to Qatar this season.
For the first time, the 2018-19 cruise season will see Doha Port receive two mega cruise ships simultaneously.
The docking of two mega ships simultaneously will happen five times during the season, proving the port’s ability to accommodate the cruise tourism sector’s rapid growth, Mwani Qatar has stressed.
Hamad Ali al-Ansari, manager of public relations and communication at Mwani Qatar, said: “We are pleased with the successful start of one of the busiest and strongest cruise seasons at Doha Port, which is emerging as one of the most important tourism ports in the region.
“Qatar is taking serious steps to raise the country’s profile as an attractive tourism destination in the region.
“At Mwani Qatar, we are working to support these efforts by ensuring excellence in our operations at the port to promote the tourism sector, support Qatar National Vision 2030 and achieve economic diversity in Qatar.”
QTA has signed a number of agreements with leading international cruise companies to develop cruise tourism in Qatar.
These include agreements with the German Aida Cruises and Italian Costa Cruises to place Qatar on the two companies’ winter itineraries as well as to co-operate in designing special promotion packages for their passengers.
As part of the agreements, luxury ship AIDAprima and Costa Mediterranea are expected to make their maiden trips to Doha Port this season.
Between them, the two cruise lines will bring up to 37,000 passengers to Doha, the statement adds.
Maryam Saoud, acting head of the Tourism Product Support Section at QTA, noted: “The cruise tourism sector’s growth is a result of fruitful co-operation among all stakeholders. We are working on multiple fronts to enhance the sector.
“This includes developing services and products, signing partnerships with leading international agencies, and promoting Qatar as a main tourism destination for winter cruise itineraries. We expect the number of visitors to increase to 200,000 by the 2019-2020 season.
“We seek to turn Qatar into a turn-around cruise destination in the region to increase tourism spending and support other tourism sectors like hospitality and aviation.”
QTA and Mowasalat recently signed a MoU (memorandum of understanding) to develop tourism transport and enhance transport and communication services to cope with the rapid growth in the cruise tourism sector and to support QTA’s efforts to develop the tourism sector in general.
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