(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: Mein Schiff 5 docked at Doha Port this morning, marking the arrival of the first mega cruise ship of the 2017/ 2018 cruise season. The German vessel measures 293 meters in length and is 15 decks high with a capacity to carry nearly 4,000 passengers and crew.
A delegation of senior representatives from Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Qatar Ports Management Company, Mwani Qatar and the Ministry of Interior's Immigration Department welcomed the ship at Doha Port.
Rashed AlQurese, Chief Executive Marketing & Promotions Officer at QTA said, 'We are delighted to welcome TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 5 as the first mega ship of the season, especially as TUI Cruises has been a longtime supporter of Qatar as a destination.
He added, 'We look forward to continue building our ties with leading German cruise liners. In September of this year, we met with senior officials in Hamburg to share the latest developments in Qatar's tourism industry, with the aim to increase the number of mega cruise ships arriving in Qatar and encouraging them to make Doha a turn-around port for their future Gulf itineraries.
Cruise tourism in Qatar is witnessing exponential growth with the past season recording a year-on-year increase of over 1,000% in the number of passengers arriving at Doha's shores. The current season, which will run until April 2018, is expected to bring nearly 50,000 cruise passengers to Qatar.
Mein Schiff 5, which is expected to return to Doha Port seven more times this season, is not the only mega cruise ship to carry thousands of passengers to Doha. The Italian mega ship MSC Splendida which carries 3,900 passengers, is also scheduled to make six calls to Doha Port this season.
In preparation for more growth in Qatar's cruise tourism, major development projects are underway including the redevelopment of Doha Port into a tourist hub and permanent cruise terminal with capacity for two mega cruise ships simultaneously. Once these development projects are complete, cruise tourism is projected to attract over 500,000 visitors to Qatar and generate QR350m annually by 2026.