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In difficulty, Qatar relies on cruises to boost its tourism

While the number of visitors to Qatar has been falling since 2015, the Qatar Tourism Authority is counting on cruises to boost its tourist appeal.

In a context of diplomatic tensions between Qatar and its neighbours, the sanctions imposed by the latter have impacted the Emirate's tourist appeal. Indeed, the number of visitors to the peninsula fell by 521,077 between 2015 and 2017, looking at only the first 10 months of each year. In detail, the fourth largest natural gas producer welcomed 2,383,583 visitors in the first 10 months of 2016 compared to 1,941,725 visitors in the first 10 months of 2017.

Many avenues are being explored to boost tourism in the Sovereign State to achieve the objective of doubling the number of visitors by 2022, including the organisation of the football World Cup this year. Another growing industry that could contribute to the development of tourism in the peninsula is cruises. Qatar welcomed more than 65,000 cruise passengers last season, an 39% increase compared to the 2016/17 season, the majority of passengers were German and Italian. This growth is supported by the Doha Port Redevelopment Project, which will transform the port into a permanent cruise terminal.

Yesterday, September 10, 2018, the Qatar Tourism Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with cruise operators AIDA and Costa Crociere (number 3 worldwide in terms of supply, see our report Catching the wave of the cruise industry). This partnership aims to develop special packages and services dedicated to customers and both companies. In concrete terms, AIDA will offer reservations for eight stopovers in Doha during the 2018/19 season.

Hassan Al Ibrahim, acting president of the QTA, said. "After the exceptional success of the last cruise season, this agreement is another step towards our goal of 200,000 cruise passengers by 2020 and we look forward to working with our Qatari partners to provide unforgettable experiences for every passenger. ”

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