A total of 65,675 visitors arrived on Qatar’s shores during 2017/18 season, marking a 39 percent increase compared to the previous season, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said yesterday.
The announcement was done during the closing ceremony yesterday in which QTA recognized the efforts of immigration, port and customs officials; tour guides and tour operators, providers of logistical support and operators of tourism landmarks.
“To us, cruise tourism is one of the most important sectors that will help us excel and grow as a destination,” Hassan Al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman of QTA, said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the event.
“The probability of people visiting the destination is 16 times higher that they visit Qatar on a cruise ship and they enjoy their experience,” he said.
The visitors were on board 22 cruise ships, 14 of which were mega-ships. The cruise season, which ran from October 2017 until April 2018, 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 most visitors aboard cruise ships this season were European, with the largest portion being German (44 percent, 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.
“The growth is not the only thing that we are trying to achieve, customer experience Is very important. We would also like to further deepen the economic impact of this sector by becoming a turnaround or home port,” he said.
Data gathered by QTA shows that 86 percent of passengers disembarked, which Al Ibrahim said was one of the highest at regional and even in global standards. These visitors enjoyed Qatar’s various offerings, with 53 percent preferring city tours, and 18 percent choosing desert safaris.
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.
“In terms of satisfaction rates, we were able to achieve very high rates compared to other destinations and it’s on par with our strategy,” said Al Ibrahim, adding satisfaction was “about the holistic end-to-end customer experience which also entailed visa facilitation process, checks in the port, logistics and transportation, the tours, and the quality of service that the tourism products are offering.”
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 500,000 cruise tourists by 2026.
“With the expansion that the Doha Port will go through, we will be able to receive two mega ships at the same time within the next season and increase to four mega ships for the following seasons, and by doing so will hopefully be able to accommodate more visitors,” added Al Ibrahim.