The 2017-2018 cruise season kicked off in Qatar when the Seaborne Encore docked at Doha Port on Thursday.
The cruise ship will be the first of 21 expected throughout the season, which continues until April 2018, according to a statement from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA).
This year there are five new ships making their maiden calls to Qatar, and for the first time there will be two megaships making calls into Doha Port. The Mein Schiff 5 and the MSC Splendida are due to make a total of 12 calls to Doha Port.
The MSC Splendida, carrying 3,900 passengers, has replaced the MSC Fantasia which called last year, as demand for the region continues to grow.
Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA said, “It continues to be an exciting time of rapid growth for Qatar’s cruise tourism sector, which will witness more firsts this season. As we embark on the Next Chapter of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, the growing number of visitors arriving at our shores highlights the opportunities for investors to develop authentic and memorable experiences that reinforce Qatar’s position as a hub to discover.”
QTA also continues to work with local and international partners to carefully plan, develop and manage the cruise terminal facilities, infrastructure and operations needed to achieve sustainable growth.
The country is targeting 500,000 passengers per year by 2026.