Qatar Tourism Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with the German AIDA Cruises and the Italian Costa Cruises.
The deal is designed to develop the cruise tourism sector with Qatar.
The deal also includes the possibility of cooperation to build attractive packages and special services dedicated to Costa Cruises and AIDA guests, in addition to joint communications, co-marketing actions and familiarisation trips.
The initiative will focus on Doha, the capital of Qatar, which already provides a state-of-the-art cruise terminal, and aims at building a strong relationship between the cruise lines and Qatar in advance of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Costa Mediterranea will inaugurate Costa’s presence in Qatar with one call set on March 6th next year, while the fleet flagship Costa Diadema will offer sixteen calls to Doha during her seven-days 2019/2020 winter program.
The luxury AIDAprima is holding port bookings for eight calls in Doha during the 2018/19 season and will make several more calls in the 2019/2020 season.
Between them, the two cruise lines will potentially bring up to 45,000 passengers in the coming season.
The signing took place on the sidelines of the Qatar-Germany Business and Investment Forum held in Berlin earlier, further strengthening QTA’s ties with industry stakeholders to promote Qatar as an attractive tourism destination in the region.
“We are delighted to announce these new developments and additions to the fleet of cruise ships arriving at Doha Port over the coming seasons,” commented Hassan Al Ibrahim, Qatar Tourism Authority acting chairman.
“After the exceptional success of the last cruise season, this agreement is another step towards our target of 200,000 cruise visitors by 2020, and we are looking forward to work with our partners on the ground in Qatar to provide unforgettable experiences to each and every passenger.”
Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises were the first cruise companies in the world to start regular cruises in the Arabian Gulf back in 2006.
The strategic initiative follows a round of talks between QTA officials and major cruise lines, which shed a spotlight on Qatar’s growing tourism offering, and the significant efforts underway to provide cruise visitors with smooth and seamless experiences at the port of entry and throughout the country.
Qatar welcomed over 65,000 cruise passengers last season - a 39 per cent increase from the 2016/17 season.
The majority of passengers were German and Italian.
This notable growth is supported by the Doha Port Redevelopment Project, which will convert the port at the heart of the capital’s cultural district into a permanent cruise terminal and tourist destination in its own right.
Qatar Tourism Authority is working with developers to ensure facilities are in place to receive two ships per day, and a new terminal is in the pipeline, expected for completion within 2020.