Photo for illustrative purposes only. Vesselin Kolev/Flickr
In a bid to boost tourism numbers in Qatar, the government is considering transforming the Doha Port into a docking station for cruise ships.
The idea was announced by a senior Qatar Tourism Authority official yesterday at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in Abu Dhabi, where Gulf leaders gathered to discuss ways to increase cruise opportunities in the region.
Days earlier, the UAE and Oman announced a new partnership to promote tourism in the Gulf region, with tourism heads of those countries calling the tie-up “both timely and strategic.”
No timeline was given for Qatar’s project, but the repurposing of the port would presumably happen after the $7.5 billion New Port Project in Mesaieed is completed in 2016.
According to QTA, the Gulf currently captures only 1 percent of the global cruise market. In a statement, Chairman Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi said:
“The presence of a home port for cruise lines would enhance not only Qatar but the Gulf’s position as a tourist destination and promote economic diversity. As the tourism industry develops in Qatar and across the Gulf, the cruise market can be a pillar of growth that accelerates our efforts and brings more people to discover the products on offer.”
The cruise idea is one of many that Qatar has been discussing to boost its tourism numbers, which grew 12 percent last year.
The authority has said it plans to help diversify the country’s economy by contributing some 3 percent to the gross domestic product by 2030. Tourism currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation’s annual GDP. A new strategy is expected to be announced soon.