Posted on December 22, 2017

As Qatar has attracted over 1.9 million tourists from around the world from January-October 2017, Doha Port welcomed MSC Splendida, the largest ship with a capacity to carry 4,363 guests. 

It is the largest ship to call Doha Port in the 2017-18 cruise season, Mwani Qatar announced. 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 Immigration Department welcomed MSC Splendida, said a statement issued by Qatar Tourism Authority. The elegant mega ship, which can carry 4,363 guests, is the second member of the MSC Cruises family to journey to Doha, and is due to make five more calls throughout the 2017/18 season. 

At 333 metres in length and 66 metres 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. Separately, recently released statistics indicate that Qatar has become a favourite destination of tourists as over 1.9 million visitors from across the world visited the country this year till October 2017. According to statistics, released this week by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, on number of visitors from January to October 2017, a total of 1,941,752 people visited Qatar.

Qatar Monthly Statistics of October reveal that 720,878 (37%) visitors are from GCC countries while 144,765 (7%) people who visited Qatar are from other Arab countries. According to fresh statistics, 530,107 (27%) were from Asia and Oceana, 384,397 (20%) from Europe, 126,784 (7%) from Americas and 34,821 (2%) from African countries. Despite ongoing blockade imposed on Qatar, hotel occupancy in all categories remained 57% in October 2017 while hotel apartment occupancy rate in the same month was 64%. In September this year, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) report “Tourism Performance Summary H1 2017,” had indicated healthy growth in tourism sector in the first half of 2017 with visitor arrivals from Europe and the Americas increased by 10% and 7%, respectively when compared to the first half of 2016. 

On MSC Splendida arrival in Doha, Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA said: “Qatar is fast becoming a more mainstream destination for cruise ships, as evidenced by the growing number of mega ships docking in our ports.” Al Ibrahim added 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, the port will be a permanent cruise terminal and tourist hub, with capacity for two mega cruise ships docking simultaneously. Once all development projects are complete, cruise tourism is projected to attract over 500,000 visitors to Qatar and generate QR350m annually by 2026. 

Following extensive collaboration between the Ministry of Interior, 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 and begin enjoying their day-trip within an hour. The guests are 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. “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,” said Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer at QTA. 

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented: “We are delighted about MSC Splendida making her maiden call in Doha as part of her maiden voyage in the region. MSC Cruises is committed to support developing the cruise industry in this region and we are seeing a growing demand from our guests globally as they seek new and exciting winter cruise destinations.” MSC Splendida will next visit Doha this winter season January 4 and 25, February 15, and March 8 and 29. The 2017/2018 cruise season kicked off in Qatar in October 2017. A total of 21 ships are expected throughout the season, which continues until April 2018. 

The first cruise ship of the current season, Seaborne Encore, docked at Doha Port with more than 500 passengers on board in the last week of October while Mein Schiff 5 docked at Doha Port on November 22 marking the arrival of the first mega cruise ship of the 2017/2018 cruise season. 

source: The Peninsula