Bahrain became the latest country to confirm its commitment to the Cruise Arabia Alliance, which now has membership from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Qatar and Oman. The 6-member alliance encourages its members to share best practices and ensure a region-wide level of service and standards offered to both the cruise lines and their passengers.
The announcement came at a timely point when the Kingdom of Bahrain also announced it would be complementing the 2015/2106 cruise season with 68,000 passengers and 32 calls from various prestigious cruise lines.
Qatar is also expecting a three-fold increase in passengers next season. 30 cruise ships bringing up to 50,000 passengers will call in Doha between October 2016 and April 2017 - up from the eight calls scheduled this season.
Mr Hassan Al Ibrahim, QTA’s Chief Tourism Development Officer, said at Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, “Qatar places huge importance on the cruise industry, both to diversify the tourism sector and Qatar’s overall economy. There are long-term plans to upgrade the country’s infrastructure, all of which will enable us to tap into the potential of cruise tourism by developing Qatar’s ports.
“We are building our infrastructure and human capital; we have a new destination brand that consolidates the industry’s efforts to attract more visitors; and, we are diversifying and enhancing the products and services across the entire industry.
“For our part, QTA is working with partners across the public and private sectors, to plan, regulate, develop and promote the tourism sector, with the aim of achieving growth that is both exponential and sustainable.”
He added: “QTA is committed to providing at least 6,000 rooms on cruise ships for the 2022 FIFA World Cup competition - in the redeveloped Doha Port – reinforcing cruise tourism as one of our most exciting and enduring legacies.”
The Forum confirmed that, within less than a decade, the Arabian Gulf has become the third most popular winter cruising destination with one million cruise passenger visits expected in GCC countries during the 2015-2016 season.