Qatar Looking to Build Cruise Tourism and Homeporting

Craig Upshall

A new cruise terminal will open this summer in Doha, ready for two megaships.

“Our business heading into 2022-2023 is back to pre-COVID. Based on the size of ships, we’ll see an increase in the number of passengers,” said Craig Upshall, tourism marketing and promotion sector, Qatar Tourism.

Upshall said he was predicting over 200,000 passengers per season.

Looking ahead, he said cruise lines were getting back to traditional itinerary planning windows, with port bookings coming in for 2023, 2024 and beyond.

“We’re heavily promoting it as a cruise destination for existing tonnage that comes in and homeports in other areas, and maybe shift some of that share (to Doha),” he told Cruise Industry News.

The new two-berth terminal will be capable of handling 14,000 guests simultaneously from big ships. Luxury marinas nearby are a good fit for smaller ships. Long-term plans include building a dedicated facility for smaller luxury ships, Upshall said.

The Emerald Azzurra will homeport next season in Doha.

“We’re working hard for that niche business, which lends itself well to our destination,” he said.

For cruise passengers heading to Doha, they can rely on Qatar Airlines, which is currently the world’s largest international air carrier, said Upshall.

"(Homeporting) is the golden goose,” he continued. “We get interporting from some of the megaships, such as Costa, MSC and TUI.”

The long-term vision for tourism in Qatar includes growing from two million arrivals annually to six million by 2030. Should cruise grow proportionally, the country will welcome 600,000 guests by 2030.

“The U.S. (source market) is a huge opportunity,” Upshall explained.

Later this year the world’s attention will turn to Qatar as the host country of the World Cup. Two cruise ships will be on hotel charters, including the new MSC World Europa, which will be in Doha for a 34-day stay.

There are also additional cruise ship calls during the World Cup, Upshall said.

               

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