Posted on May 08, 2018

Members of the cruise tourism industry gathered to celebrate the close of the 2017/18 season, which ended last month with remarkable growth in the number of passengers.

Representatives from across the cruise tourism value chain, including immigration, port and customs officials; tour guides and tour operators, providers of logistical support and operators of tourism landmarks were thanked by Qatar Tourism Authority for their role in facilitating seamless and memorable experiences for 65,000 passengers and crew.

The visitors, whose numbers have increased by 39%, arrived at Qatar’s shores on board 22 cruise ships, 14 of which were mega-ships. The cruise season continued from October 2017 until April 2018, and witnessed five maiden voyages to Doha, made by MSC Splendida, Mein Schiff 5, Crystal Symphone, Europa 2 and Crystal Serenity. Data gathered by QTA shows that 86% of passengers disembarked and enjoyed Qatar’s various offerings, with 53% preferring city tours, and 18% choosing desert safaris.

Addressing attendees, Mr. Hassan Al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman of QTA, said “I am delighted to celebrate the success of the 2017/18 cruise season with all of the partners who made it possible. Our strategy identifies cruise tourism as a key contributor to the growth and development targets for the next five years: not only does it have an immediate impact on visitor arrivals and tourism spending, it is one of the most effective tools in promoting Qatar as a destination, turning each passenger who experiences Qatar into an ambassador among prospective travelers.”

He added, “The cruise tourism sector, the growth of which is entirely dependent on the coordination of efforts, is a model for the success that can be achieved if parties across various sectors, public and private, join hands. Consolidating efforts towards an enhanced visitor experience is at the heart of The Next Chapter of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2017-2023.”

Data gathered by QTA shows that most visitors aboard cruise ships this season were European, with the largest portion being German (44%, 20,275 visitors). Italian and British visitors formed the second and third largest groups respectively. In addition, more than 1200 Brazilians came to Doha on board various cruise ships. QTA also conducted visitor satisfaction surveys throughout the season, which showed that 94% of cruise visitors were satisfied with their overall visitor experience. The same percentage confirmed they would recommend Qatar as a destination for family and friends.

Data also shows that most of the revenues from the 2017/18 season came from tour excursion revenues, while 29% came from visitors’ personal expenditure. QTA’s projections show continued growth in the cruise tourism industry over the coming years.  With the completion of the Doha Port redevelopment, and the associated capacity increase which will allow the port to receive two mega-ships at once, Qatar is expected to attract 500 thousand cruise tourists by 2026.