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Revamp of Doha Port into cruise ship terminal to start this year

Work will begin in the coming months to turn Doha Port into a “full-time cruise terminal and tourist attraction,” the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has said.

The announcement comes more than two years after plans to repurpose the marine facility were first announced and several months after some commercial vessels started to use the new Hamad Port near Mesaieed. The QTA is increasing efforts to market the country as a cruise ship destination and said this week that German operator TUI Cruises would dock seven vessels, carrying up to 17,500 passengers, in Qatar during the 2017-18 season.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vesselin Kolev/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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.

More tourists

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.