*QNTC expects the growth to continue in the coming years with Doha Port to be one of the most important winter cruising ports
Qatar’s 2018/2019 cruise season witnessed a significant growth, doubling the number of ships carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers compared to the same period last year, Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) Secretary General HE Akbar al-Baker has said.
“We welcomed 44 ships, carrying more than 140,000 people, marking a 100% increase over last season,” he said at the Sixth Annual Tourism Industry Ghabga on Monday.
QNTC, according to QNTC secretary general, expects this growth to continue in the coming years and for Doha Port to be one of the most important winter cruising ports. “Such trend will also broaden opportunities for destination management companies (DMCs) to handle this category of visitors.”
The cruise season for 2018/2019 concluded on May 10 with the arrival of the season’s last ship, Seaborne Encore.
Other ships, which made either single or multiple calls on Doha port, include Boudicca, Azamara Quest, Mein Schiff 4, Celebrity Constellation, MSC Lirica, Seabourn Ovation, MSC Splendida, Costa Mediterranea, AIDAprima, and Silver Shadow.
Qatar’s latest record reflects on the success of QNTC’s strategy in attracting more tourists from different countries globally.
The country received 588,000 visitors in the first quarter of 2019, a 10% increase compared to the same period in 2018, he noted. He lauded the support of tourism stakeholders saying their concerted efforts led to significant progress in the country’s tourism sector in 2019.
“We are making strong progress and our first quarter results are encouraging,” stressed he said, adding that the hospitality sector witnessed “excellent occupancy rates” in recent months.
“We also noticed a shift in demographics, with Germany now the second largest source market after India,” he added.
HE al-Baker expressed optimism that second quarter of this year will retain its momentum, citing a unique and one-of-its-kind ‘Summer in Qatar’ programme, scheduled from June 4 to August 16.
He said Qatar’s hospitality industry continues to expand and win prestigious awards with hospitality and travel date providers Olery, rating it the best in the Middle East (guest experience) for a second consecutive year.
Qatar Airways will continue to promote the Discover Qatar stopover programme, which brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the country, he said.
“Discover Qatar will also be launching exciting new products over the coming months, including a fully-managed kite surfing facility, luxury desert retreats, and professionally and sustainably-organised tours to view the amazing population of whale sharks off the coast of Qatar,” he said.
HE al-Baker noted that Qatar Airways will invest in millions of Qatari riyals in developing these facilities, which will be eventually be handed over to the private sector.
“It is heartening to see that Qatar is becoming a genuine seven-night winter destination for visitors especially from Europe as a result of enhanced product development,” the QNTC secretary-general said, adding that Qatar Airways has been providing hugely competitive rates to such treat.
He also underscored the importance of close collaboration between public and private sectors in building “a thriving and sustainable tourism industry.”
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