German mega ship AIDA Prima, which can carry 4,250 passengers and crew, made its first of eight calls at Doha Port Wednesday, further boosting Qatar’s cruise tourism sector.
Officials of the National Tourism Council (NTC) and Mwani Qatar welcomed the arrival of the 300m long vessel – the largest of AIDA Cruises’ fleet. It is expected to bring about 26,000 passengers to the country’s shores until April 2019.
“We are pleased to have one of the most established cruise lines operating in the Arabian Gulf add Qatar to its itinerary,” Rashed al-Qurese from NTC said in a press statement.
In addition to attracting more mega ships to Qatar, he noted that NTC’s collaboration with AIDA Cruises is helping expedite the development of the cruise industry in the country through joint promotion efforts.
The cruise ship’s arrival forms part of an agreement signed between NTC and AIDA Cruises earlier this year on the sidelines of the Qatar-Germany Business and Investment Forum.
The two entities partnered to build attractive packages and special services dedicated to AIDA Cruises’ guests, in addition to joint communications, co-marketing activities and familiarisation trips.
Dr Saleh Fetais al-Marri, general supervisor of Maritime Transport Affairs at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MoTC), said the ongoing major redevelopment projects at Doha Port “paved the way for it to become one of the leading cruise tourism ports in the region and help position Doha as an attractive cruise tourism destination.”
“The Ministry supports the government's steps to improve the country's ranking as an attractive tourism destination as a key pillar for achieving economic diversification in line with Qatar National Vision 2030,” he added.
AIDA Prima's captain receiving a memento from Rashed al-Qurese from NTC
Local performers welcome cruise passengers at the Doha Port with traditional performances
An ongoing development project, mainly dredging and expanding Doha Port’s watercourse, is aimed at boosting its capacity to accommodate larger cruise ships, MoTC said.
Mwani Qatar’s public relations and communications manager Hamad Ali al-Ansari stressed that AIDA Prima’s maiden voyage to Doha Port “is testament to the confidence that it has gained among the world's cruise ship operators.”
“Doha Port has an important role to play in promoting tourism in Qatar and remains committed to collaborating with various stakeholders to provide visitors with the best services that meet their needs efficiently, in accordance with MoTC's plans,” he noted.
According to NTC, AIDA Cruises is one of the first cruise lines globally to offer trips around the Arabian Gulf, including week-long winter cruises (since 2006) to its mostly German clientele.
This makes it an ideal partner for NTC, which places the German-speaking market among its priority markets as it pursues its goals for 2023. In 2015, NTC opened a representative office in Germany, and has since regularly organised numerous campaigns to raise awareness among travellers and tour operators about Qatar’s unique tourism offering in German-speaking markets.
NTC noted that its partnership with AIDA Cruises is the second successful collaboration with a German cruise line after TUI Cruises, which brought its mega ship Mein Schiff 5 eight times to Doha last season. At 40%, Germans formed the majority of cruise passengers disembarking in Doha in the 2017/18 season.
Qatar’s cruise industry is set to grow continuously in the coming years, with 200,000 passengers projected to visit the country by 2020.
Close coordination between NTC, Mwani Qatar, Ministry of Interior, Qatar Customs Authority, Mowasalat and Destination Management Companies ushered the smooth docking and disembarking of cruise ships, easing the entry and exit of passengers.