doha-cruise-portHosted by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum took place in Qatar at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl, Doha. The two day summit and conference ran from 7-8 December and brought together global cruise line executives and regional stake-holders who presented and discussed innovative ways to tackle some of the challenges as well as opportunities for the industry’s growth in the region.

Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA said, “Here in the Gulf we have seen well over 20% growth per annum in the cruise industry over the past year, as travelers learn about the new and unique experiences the region offers over traditional cruise lines, such as those covering the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. In a short amount of time, the Arabian Gulf has risen to the top three cruise destinations worldwide during the winter months.”

Qatar is enjoying healthy growth with five more ships expected this season which began in October and ends in April 2016, he added.

Qatar is also expecting a three-fold increase in passengers next season. 30 cruise ships bringing up to 50,000 passengers will call in Doha between October 2016 and April 2017 – up from the eight calls scheduled this season.

“For our part, QTA is working with partners across the public and private sectors, to plan, regulate, develop and promote the tourism sector, with the aim of achieving growth that is both exponential and sustainable.”

He added: “QTA is committed to providing at least 6,000 rooms on cruise ships for the 2022 FIFA World Cup competition – in the redeveloped Doha Port – reinforcing cruise tourism as one of our most exciting and enduring legacies.”

The Forum confirmed that, within less than a decade, the Arabian Gulf has become the third most popular winter cruising destination with one million cruise passenger visits expected in GCC countries during the 2015-2016 season.