Cruise tourism, which has become one of the most important sectors of Qatar’s tourism, will further help the country excel and grow as a destination, Qatar Tourism Authority’s acting chairman Hassan al-Ibrahim has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the cruise season closing ceremony 2017-18 in Doha recently, he noted that the cruise sector grew 39% (compared to last cruise season), receiving more than 65,000 visitors on board 22 luxury and mega ships.
“In terms of people leaving the ship it was around 86%, it is one of the highest percentages if you compare it with the region or even global standards,” al-Ibrahim said.
“In terms of the satisfaction rates we have achieved in the range of 89% to 93% and we are talking about the holistic customer experience end to end,” he pointed out.
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.
Cruise ship Mein Schiff 5 pictured at Doha Port during its visit.
The cruise season continued from October 2017 to April 2018, and witnessed five maiden voyages to Doha, made by MSC Splendida, Mein Schiff 5, Crystal Symphony, Europa 2 and Crystal Serenity.
According to the senior QTA official, the importance of the cruise sector is not only in terms of growth in the number of visitors or ships Qatar receives annually.
“It helps us a lot also in understanding our destination, what tourists are looking for and hence we focus so much on the tourist experience through our sector,” he added.
“It also entails the visa facilitation process, the checks in the port, the logistics and transportation, the tours that they are having and the quality of service that tourism products are offering,” al-Ibrahim explained.
“So we were able to achieve very high rates when we compare ourselves to other destinations and it is at par with the strategies that we are having,” he said.
The probability of people visiting the destination is 16 times higher if they visit Qatar on a cruise ship, al-Ibrahim noted.
“Yes we will achieve 500,000 visitors after the (2022 FIFA) World Cup but this is not the only thing that we are trying to achieve, customer experience is very important,” he stressed.
“We also like to deepen the economic impact of this sector while becoming a turnaround port or a home port.”
“So people will start or end their journey from or in Qatar and this is what we are trying to achieve hopefully in the future,” al-Ibrahim said.
With the expansion that the Doha Port, he said it will be able to receive two megaships at the same time within the next season (2018-19).
“The following seasons the capacity will increase to four megaships simultaneously and we hope that by doing so we will be able to accommodate more and more visitors,” al-Ibrahim added.