It is dubbed the greatest show on Earth and more than five billion people have tuned their TVs on at any moment during the last edition, played in Russia. The FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly a mega sporting event and both the local hosts and FIFA have made it clear they plan to put on the “best-ever edition of the tournament” in Qatar 2022.
For some teams, like Canada, who qualified for the first time since 1986, or Wales, who returned to the tournament for the first time since 1958, a trip to the FIFA World Cup is something historic, therefore fans had made long-term plans to follow them and support the side on the biggest of stages.
That meant a huge uptick for the HoReCa sector of Qatar, a country who has been trying to become a more and more attractive proposition for tourists, totally transforming their focus on being more inclusive and impressive in the last decades.
However, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the global tourism industry ground to a halt and everything stopped, with the afflux of tourists slowly draining in Qatar, only to start to bounce back in 2022, as the restrictions were eased and travellers could return to their ways.
But by hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the demand got even bigger, as a huge uptick was registered even before the start of the tournament. According to the Qatar Planning and Statistics Authority, hotels in Qatar registered solid growth in occupancy rates and revenues in October 2022 as the country saw an increase in visitors and guests.
The hotel and hotel apartments in Qatar witnessed a robust performance with the overall occupancy rate being at 56 percent in October 2022. Among the hotels, three-star hotels occupancy rate reached 69 percent during the analysed month.
With the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in full fledge, the number of visitors coming to Qatar exceeded pre-pandemic levels in October 2022, a suite of events, new launches and impending football fever drove visitor numbers during the month to nearly 180,000, marking a six year high. Over the first half of the year, Qatar witnessed a 19 percent increase in the number of international arrivals compared to the full year 2021 and is expecting an even stronger second half.
In 2022 alone, more than 20 hotels, resorts and new tourist destinations in Qatar have been inaugurated, all progressing to the same big event, the 64-game bonanza of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which saw over 1.2 million people coming into the Middle Eastern country.
New attractions include entertainment venues, seaside and beach clubs, arts and culture houses, shopping malls, and the new Qatar 2022 hotels and resorts. The entertainment venues include many tourist sites, such as Al Maha Island, Lusail Winter Wonderland, Lusail Boulevard, Qetaifan Island North, Corinthia Yacht Club, and West Walk. These sites accommodate restaurants, brands, and other recreational activities.
Over 3.000 rooms have been also put on the market in a last-minute ditch to satisfy demand, with huge numbers estimated for the hospitality industry in Qatar. Due to the compact nature of the competition, with all eight stadiums in a radius of 50 kilometres, demand was the highest in the capital Doha, as the average occupancy was 85% during the tournament, with the metric dropping no lower than 66.3% and peaking at 90.5% on 25 November. The second-highest occupancy-on-the-books level (90.2%) occurs on 26 November, when neighbouring Saudi Arabia faced Poland, and Argentina matches up with Mexico.
Four fan villages have also been built, providing an extra 30.000 rooms, ranging from converted shipping containers to luxury tents, catering to all needs. Two cruise ships, the MSC Poesia and the MSC World Europa, are providing almost 4,000 cabins at Doha’s Grand Terminal.
In total, Qatar has managed to add around 100,000 rooms to the 31,000 permanent hotel rooms it had leading up to the tournament.
“When looking at people flying into Qatar during the World Cup period, excluding those in transit, 7 percent are day trippers, 55 percent are staying one or two nights and 38 percent are staying longer,” says Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at the ForwardKeys agency, according to AGBI.