The Qatar 2022 World Cup is approaching and the expectations are very good in all senses. The tourism sector will be the most profitable industry and hotels are already preparing to welcome thousands of fans. In addition to Qatar, neighbouring countries will also be immersed in the travel operation and Emirates, for example, is preparing for almost full hotel occupancy.
"The FIFA World Cup will have an immediate impact on the region as neighbouring countries will benefit as key transit hubs with efficient connectivity and advanced accommodation options," Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO of Rotana, told The National News.
Dubai's hotels will be close to full occupancy during November and December and tens of thousands of tourists will be staying there to travel to the football grounds. Estimates claim that some hotels will even be fully booked with fans travelling from the city to Doha to watch the games.
"The upcoming World Cup in Qatar has created an air of optimism in the tourism sector, with hotel bookings in the UAE increasing for the November period and beyond," said Varun Ahuja, director of sales at Aloft Dubai South.
Moreover, with few hotels in Qatar, the UAE will be hosting a large portion of the fans and bookings are already high. "As there is little or no availability in Qatar, we are seeing a lot of interest," says David Allen, general manager of Radisson Hotels. "Reservations are being taken for 50 to 100 people at a time," he continued.
These football fans come from all over the world, but the most popular are from places where the football industry is traditionally exploited to the maximum, such as Spain, Germany and, above all, from many South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil.
Dubai is a great choice because of its proximity to Doha and tourism in the city will be at its best. Fans have already booked all kinds of accommodation, such as campsites, hotels, cruise ships docked in the area, Airbnb flats, etc. The few that remain are already very expensive or are starting to be booked.
The city is also preparing to accommodate fans in certain areas so that rival fans do not cause problems. Experts are directing tourists to specific areas so that they do not congregate and cause scandals and fights. The Emirates wants everything to be peaceful and excited about the football and do not want any disturbances.
Extensive arrangements are also being planned in hotels and around the city for fans to follow the matches. Fan-only areas with giant screens have been set up for everyone to enjoy the tournament.
Fans are choosing Emirati cities because of their close proximity to the event. The nation is already one of the top choices and many tourist routes to Qatar depart from there. "With the announcement of connecting flights to Doha, the UAE is a great option for football fans visiting Qatar and wanting to explore the wider region," said Kim Iskandar, vice president and chief commercial officer for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Hilton Hotels. This is the case with Air Arabia or FlyDubai, which will provide more than 45 daily flights from Dubai and Sharjah to Doha.
"The recent announcement that several Gulf airlines will cooperate to offer visitors daily connecting flights to Qatar will allow fans to stay in cities such as Dubai and fly during the day, ensuring a busy season for the whole region," said Hutchinson. He even claims that many hotels have already arranged for shuttle buses to take fans to nearby airports to travel to Doha.
The UAE is set to become a major tourist hub this year. According to Colliers forecasts, the country will see a 19% increase in tourism during the World Cup months compared to the same time last year, and up to 77% for the year as a whole.