(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
A Qatari delegation comprising five government and private sector parties led by the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MOTC), Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC), and Qatar Ports, participated in the Seatrade Cruise Global Expo and Conference, which concluded in Miami in the United States last week.
Considered one of the largest and most significant events in the global cruise industry calendar, this year's expo witnessed participants from over 130 countries including more than 11,000 cruise industry leaders and 700 exhibitors.
Qatar's delegation to the conference also visited Cruise Terminal A in Miami Port, considered globally to be a model cruise port. The delegation examined the facilities and services provided to passengers and cruise ships, taking note of the standards to be applied as Qatar develops its own temporary cruise terminals in Doha Port.
These temporary terminals will serve cruise passengers over the next few seasons until the full-time and permanent terminal is complete in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Capt. Abdulla Al Khanji, CEO of Mwani Qatar, said, 'We are very pleased with the significant successes that have been achieved in securing Qatar's place on the global cruise map in the region and we look forward to further success in the coming seasons with our commitment to harnessing all logistical and technical capabilities and ensuring better service to our visitors in collaboration with all stakeholders.
QNTC Chief Marketing Officer, Rashed AlQurese, commented, 'We are working with our partners at the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Mwani, Qatar Airways, and the various destination management companies to move to the next level in the development of the cruise industry, which will see Qatar emerging as a turnaround port for cruise ships during the 2019/2020 winter season. We have achieved a great deal in this respect, securing more reservations while supporting the development of the port, and coordinating logistical processes.
Mohammed Al Mutawa, Maritime Transport Services Quality Director at MOTC, commented, 'Seatrade Cruise Global is a great platform for sector leaders and key universal cruise operators to know Qatar's potential and its resources, which qualify it to be featured in their cruise itineraries.
Doha Port plays a key role in boosting Qatar's ranking as an attractive tourist destination in the region through receiving cruise ships from around the world and providing a full range of resources. This helps in the growth of such a key sector, thus achieving the economic diversity that is one of Qatar National Vision 2030's top goals.
The cruise industry is one of six tourism segments which the National Tourism Sector Strategy focuses on. It is also one of the fastest growing tourism segments, with Qatar seeing a 39% increase in the number of cruise passengers in 2017/2018. Growth is expected to double this season.
Ahead of the 2018/2019 season, QNTC signed a number of cooperation agreements, including with Germany's Aida Cruises and Italy's Costa Cruises. Under these agreements, megaships AIDAPrima and Costa Mediterranea began docking at Doha Port during this season.
Statistics from the first three months of the 2018/2019 cruise season showed increase in the number of cruise ship calls to Doha Port as well as the number of visitors from October through December 2018. The number of calls grew by 129% compared to the same period the year before, with 43,649 cruise passengers visiting Doha in the three months compared to 18,513 passengers in 2017 — a growth of 136%.