(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: Costa Mediterranea arrived at Doha Port, marking the Italian cruise ship's maiden voyage to Qatar, which brought 3,700 passengers and crew to the country's shores.
Upon her arrival, the mega ship was welcomed by, the Minister of Transport and Communications, H E Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) Secretary General Akbar Al Baker, Italy's Ambassador to Qatar Pasquale Salzano, and CEO of Mwani Qatar Captain Abdullah Al Khanji.
'We are pleased to see Doha Port playing a significant role in enhancing Qatar's position as an attractive tourist destination through accommodating international cruise ships. This in turn energizes various ancillary sectors such as hospitality, food and beverage, retail and other services making cruise shipping an important sector for diversifying the country's economy in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and the guidance of Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said Al Sulaiti.
He added, 'The development of Doha Port is part of our ongoing efforts to make Doha a unique and attractive tourist destination in the region. Dredging and drilling has recently begun to deepen the Port, enhancing its ability to accommodate the world's largest cruise ships.
Costa Mediterrenea's arrival follows the signing of an agreement between QNTC and Costa Cruises last September. According to the agreement Costa Cruises' flagship Costa Diadema will arrive in Qatar 16 times during its 2019/20 programme; therefore Costa will become the first cruise line to make Doha its turnaround port.
The MoU also paves the way for cooperation to build attractive packages and special services dedicated to Costa Cruises guests in addition to co-marketing efforts through joint communication and familiarisation trips.
Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) Secretary General Akbar Al Baker said: 'We are delighted to welcome Costa Cruises as both cruise ship and partner — to Qatar's shores and look forward to the cruise line being the first to make Doha Port a turnaround port next year.
Our collaboration with Costa Cruises is helping to expedite the development of the cruise industry in Qatar and Costa Mediterranea's arrival marks another step towards our target of 200,000 cruise visitors by 2020.
He added, 'As we continue to work with our local partners in the country to provide memorable experiences to each and every cruise visitor, we look forward to seeing Qatar become an increasingly frequent destination on Costa Cruises' itineraries.
'I am very proud to board today Costa Mediterranea on its maiden voyage to Qatar. The top-level technology and customer service of this mega cruise ship similar to others in the Costa Fleet - are designed to meet the best of Italian innovation, lifestyle and engaging hospitality, said Italian Ambassador.
Highlighting the growing ties between Italy and Qatar, the Ambassador added, 'We are proud that thanks to the new partnership between Qatar National Tourism Council and Costa Cruises, more international tourists will travel to Qatar in Italian style and comfort, bringing our countries closer.
'Costa Cruises is a pioneering company, constantly innovating its product in order to deliver guests an unforgettable cruise experience.
Therefore, we are glad to start operating in an interesting destination such as Qatar, which has a big potential for the cruise industry and allows further strengthening of the entire region, said Neil Palomba, President of Costa Cruises.