Bespoke offerings drive growth of yacht tourism in Qatar

January 16, 2023

With over 560km of coastline, the sheer elegance and versatility of cruising in a yacht in Qatar waters is leading to a steady rise in demand for this outdoor activity, from citizens, residents, and visitors alike.

Over the past five years, the yacht charter market in the country has consistently bloomed. This resulted in the establishment of more rental services and an abundance of yachts to choose from.

“Yacht tourism is in high demand in Qatar and has constantly increased over the last 5 years,” said Salman Sajid, Managing Partner at Experience Qatar, a booking agency that curates various kinds of excursions in the country.

He added: “From being a rare resource back in 2017 to being able to have plenty of options for rent now, this has become a top attraction for residents, citizens and tourists in Qatar.”

Summertime is usually the peak season for yacht rental. During this period, guests prefer to beat the heat with cool waves and watersport activities.

According to Sajid, inquiries for trips reach an average of three to five times per week during this season, noting that more people board luxury yachts now compared to the usual five to ten guests in the past.

On the other hand, Mosaad Moustafa, a yacht owner and CEO of Outing Qatar, said that he usually receives 300 guests on board per month during the peak summer season.

Along with having more guests on board, there have also been increased requests for wider entertainment options and fine-dining experiences over the years. Tour operators catered to this by offering packages with a five-star dining experience, accompanied by a professional chef and a server at times, as well as aquatic activities such as jet ski and banana rides.

“The requests for yachts with entertainment options on board, personalized catering, and bigger capacity have increased now,” Sajid told The Peninsula.

Another market segment for yachts is small teams of micro-enterprises who go on team-building trips, as they are also becoming a preferred venue for corporate meetings and activities.

At its peak

Qatar hosting the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup was also a boon for the yacht rental businesses in the country as calls for boat trip reservations started before the tournament kicked off.

“It was a very good opportunity for our business. We were fully booked during the World Cup. We welcomed a lot of guests on board, visitors from different cultures and nationalities,” said Moustafa from Outing Qatar, adding that the majority of the reservations were made by Mexican and Argentinian fans.

The tour operators stated that the guests revelled in the views of Doha’s iconic skyline, free-swimming and discovering well-known sites such as Porto Arabia, Al Safliya and Al Aaliya islands.

In one instance during the tournament, Moustafa recalled a memorable encounter with a football fan from the United States who reserved the yacht for a solo trip. Bewildered at first to serve only one guest on board, he made sure that his trip was impeccable. A couple of weeks later, he returned to Doha with his wife and went on the same yacht trip.

The reason why he chose to come back was simple, yet engraved in Moustafa’s mind, he said: “He brought his wife because he liked the environment, and he liked the vibe here in Doha.”

Besides leisure activities, fans also made use of boating to get a closer look at the new destinations and unmissable scenes during the World Cup. Football fans who went on yacht trips visited the Old Doha Port which was transformed into a marina for yachts and the three massive MSC cruises.

Having wrapped up the biggest and much-awaited event in the country, Qatar’s tourism sector is poised for another exciting round of happenings in the country, as it is set to become the region’s fastest-growing tourism destination by 2030.

The yacht tourism market is also expected to follow this path and will likely grow further soon as it turns into an all-purpose option for entertainment services, transport convenience, and a venue for corporate activities.

The opening of the prestigious Corinthia Yacht Club in November last year at The Pearl Island also promises to bring a refined membership experience and become a unique landmark, which will set new standards for yachting in Doha.

When asked about expectations on yacht tourism this year, CEO of Outing Qatar said: “Now everyone in the world knows where Qatar is located because of the World Cup, because of the flow of people who came to Qatar during the tournament.”

“So, we’re expecting a lot of visitors during the coming days from different countries to experience our culture, our environment, and our services,” he told The Peninsula.




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