Reviving an idea to lodge some football fans and guests during the 2022 World Cup in “floating hotels,” the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced plans to contract at least 6,000 cruise ship rooms for the winter tournament.
QTA announced its intentions in a statement to Qatar News Agency yesterday during an international cruise ship expo in Miami, USA.
The 6,000 rooms figure equates to about five average-sized cruise ships, and would represent approximately one-third of the 16,000 hotel and apartment hotel rooms currently available in Qatar.
The tourism authority did not say where the cruise ships would be berthed during the World Cup, but authorities have previously discussed transforming the existing port near the Museum of Islamic Art into a dedicated cruise ship terminal.
The repurposing of the port would presumably happen after the first phase of the $7.4 billion Hamad Port in Mesaieed is completed in 2016.
The country has been racing to significantly increase its room supply ahead of the World Cup to meet FIFA requirements.
According to the guidelines, Qatar must have a minimum of 60,000 rooms available by 2022 for fans, players and officials. However, in Qatar’s bid document in 2010, the nation pledged to develop an ambitious 100,000 rooms by the time the tournament begins.
The cruise ship deal is expected to secure 10 percent of FIFA’s accommodation requirement for the World Cup.
It comes amid a wider expansion strategy in which QTA aims to have 80 new hotels and apartment hotels operating within the next five years.
By the end of this year, the goal is to add an additional 4,000 rooms across 20 new hotels and apartments.
However, many of the projects are experiencing delays. Last week, the Mondrian Hotel next to Lagoona Mall announced it would be pushing back its planned opening date another six months, with a new launch planned for September this year.
And late last year, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, under construction in Msheireb district, said its projected launch had also slipped. It is now expected to open in 2016.
Pressure is on
The idea of commissioning “floating hotels” for the upcoming tournament was first raised two years ago, at a Cityscape conference in May 2013.
There, plans were unveiled for a $5.5 billion (QR20 billion), 445-acre Oryx Island project that was to be built by Barwa Real Estate. Some 25,000 rooms were supposed to be provided through cruise ships that would be docked at the island.
However, a year later, the plan was quietly scrapped.
Qatar has come under significant pressure over its ambitious hotel-construction plans, with some analysts predicting a World Cup “hangover” and plummeting room occupancy after the event.
A report published last year by Deloitte forecast that, based on previous tourist numbers, Qatar could only support around 38,000 hotel rooms after the tournament, based on approximately 60 percent room occupancy.
“While investment into the hospitality and tourism sector in Qatar is growing and demand is steadily increasing, there is a risk that the demand growth will not be sufficient in order to sustain this level of supply growth post-2022 FIFA World Cup,” the firm’s hotel market report said.
However, recent studies have been more upbeat. QTA figures released in February showed that Qatar welcomed 2.83 million visitors in 2014, up 8.3 percent on the previous year and double the number of tourists and visitors from 2009.
While visitors from neighboring Gulf countries make up the largest portion of this number, at 1.12 million, the largest increase is shown in visitors from Asia – up 20 percent to 782,904 last year.
Meanwhile, commercial real estate agency Colliers International has recently predicted a more positive outcome for Qatar’s hospitality sector, expecting occupancy rates for hotels in Doha to rise to between 71 percent and 84 percent this year.
This is up from the average of 71 percent occupancy during 2014 and 61 percent the previous year, according to QTA figures.
The recent rise in tourism numbers comes as QTA embarks on an ambitious strategy announced early last year to increase the number of visitors to Qatar by up to 7.4 million by 2030.
Part of Qatar’s economic diversification from hydrocarbons, the plan aims to make the state a more attractive destination for Gulf visitors, but also for other tourists globally.
One of the challenges Qatar faces in this regard is creating a niche to separate it from other established Gulf holiday destinations such as Dubai and Oman.
In the strategy, the QTA outlined a number of areas of focus for Qatar, including developing its “sun and beach” offerings and providing “authentic” cultural experiences, showcasing Qatari heritage.
This is in addition to its ongoing push to host major global sporting tournaments, and to attract more international conferences and business events.
Commenting on QTA’s latest deal with cruise ship operators, chief tourism development head Hassan Al Ibrahim said it was part of a wider strategy to develop Qatar as a Gulf destination for cruise ships.
The region is already one of the world’s three most popular destinations for “winter sun” cruises” and has grown at a rate of around 30 percent each year since 2008, QTA’s statement said.
“We want to promote Qatar as a key maritime destination, and capitalize on the already substantial cruise traffic in the Gulf, which Qatar is currently unable to support,” Al Ibrahim added.
Unbelievable idea. Football fans on boats. What could possibly go wrong?
Expect amazing 🙂
Makes sense actually. They know they can’t build enough hotels in time. And even if they did, many of them would sit empty after the world cup finished. Also, much of the drinking and other excesses will be kept offshore on these party ships!
you mean it will be like the Tv series ‘The Love Boat’ ! ! ?
Not entirely thought through… Can you imagine Italian, German, Turkish, Greek, Russian and English ultras boozing in an enclosed space floating in water… It’s bad enough trying to contain them on land from tearing each other apart.. This does not bode well.
All part of the master plan, if it does all go wrong they simply tow them out to sea & leave them to it 😉
Or they commandeer the vessel and weaponize it as an amphibious battering ram.
great jokes! Thank you for the entertainment!
One word – norovirus
Let me guess, they will be luxury 5 star cruise liners and not a budget hotel room in sight
I do believe row boats with some blankets will be made available for the asian fans. I just hope they’re not forced to stay in open seas as to not mix with “families”.
Wow, that sounds like a recipe for disaster, having an English ship and a German ship and a Spanish ship and a Dutch ship, etc. all featuring national flag liveries, the lads drinking all night and then boarding the enemy ship to settle whatever accounts haven’t been settled on the pitch… Yet this is the lesser evil of having all crews on one board
Imagine the name “Doha Bay” will be spoken together with Trafalgar, Lepanto, and Guadalcanal!
Yep, duke it out in the Battle of Banana Island 🙂
Pirates of the Arabian Gulf :))
I’m seeing headlines for the results of the “high diving from the ship” competition.
i’m sure the shuttling of fans from boat to shore and back would go as smoothly as the entry into khalifa stadium for football matches gone by. everything can/will go wrong with this. . .but C+ for creativity!
Another option could be to house them in Qatar Airways planes and just keep them in the air until the game starts…Imagine the $$$ flow 🙂
Or on the buses to nowhere at the old airport. Just have them drive in circles for the whole tournament. I’m sure they can hold enough petrol because some of the buses I was on took as long.
Tents in the desert could offer authentic, culturally rich experience that would cut costs for the not-so-well-off fans, locals would not by offended by empty beer cans, puke and piss around town, and last but not least, it is quite doable in November/December. The only problem is that it does not promote the 5-star brand…
It’s a long way from the tent to the stadium. Expect beer cans, puke, piss and violence 🙂
That is an excellent idea. Tents can be quite luxurious and comfortable. There are resorts on Oman that offer the true desert experience. And it would be attractive for many.
But Qatar would have a lot of cleaning up to do with its trash filled deserts. Easier than building what will become expensive ghost towns.
I think this is a marvelous idea! Instead of building tens of hotels that will most likely sit empty after the WC, having these portable hotels is very cost efficient! For those concerned about the well being of the hooligans: I really don’t think it is the Qatari Government’s problem to look after the well being of a bunch of lunatic drunk adults that don’t know how to enjoy a night without making complete fools out of themselves!
It’s not the well being of hooligans that should be of concern…it’s the well being of others that might interact with them. Imagine all those boys that are used to pinch ladies’ behinds and throw garbage at people running loose in doha. Multiply that by 1000 and add qatari “traditions” in the mix. Imagine someone “commanding” them to Sit, wait, go or some other usual/casual words in Qatar. All I can say is in the form of a tip: soaking bread in wine and applying it on a bruised eye will make the swelling go away 😛
Well I guess they should embrace the fact that this is a “World” Cup and that what is OK in their own backyard isn’t necessarily OK somewhere else!
Hmmm…you’re new to football right? I mean, I agree with you and all, I think it’s a silly overrated sport but I’m not sure the utopia you’re thinking of exists anywhere. Perhaps only in places where it’s called “soccer” but everywhere else they take their football seriously (i.e. drink, fight, spit, throw-up, etc. – not necessarily in that order). Part of the game 🙂
On the contrary, I am a pretty passionate football fan my self, and that is precisely why I am saying what I am.
Well they knew what they were getting into when they agreed to host the world cup and drunken football fans are part of the package regardless of whether I agree with what they do. I doubt a pious and respectable world cup could ever happen.
That is the thing! I am sure there are thousands of German, English, Italian etc. fans that would love to come over and watch a good and safe WC. Just look at the matches of the Premier League, you seldom hear about hooliganism at all these days. I am not saying it has to turn into a prayer instead of a football match, but everyone can enjoy a drink and stay conscious – like what many Doha residents do every weekend!
Actually, I would keep several hundred of the labor camps post construction, offer them as budget accommodation with transport into the city, that way you kill two birds with one stone. after the WC they are gone anyay. Some of these camps can hold 15,000 people. Upgrade them to a habitable standard of course and bobs your father’s brother.
That isn’t a bad idea IF they would be empty by 2022
I think the film District 9 offers a viable, culturally appropriate solution ….
hahahaahahahaha…..i spilled my coffee…damn you!
It already has! Have ever been to industrial area workers’ residences?
‘Export’ the problem, erm?
Money better spent elsewhere, me thinks
All this is so unfortunate. About 21000 people die of hunger every day, that is 567 per hour (poverty.com) . But for some people, its is not enough to play soccer on a field anymore , they want to spend billions to play soccer in a floating hotel. Oh mother earth, Why so much cruelty fand injustice .
In all the reports I’ve read on “visitors and tourists” I’ve yet to read just how many are tourists in the true sense of the word. The Hamad port scheme that was produced over a year ago had nothing to do with cruise liners and everything to do with using the existing port footprint to create an exclusive gated 5* zone with hotels, a boutique shopping experience, and berthing for private yachts. Another smoke and mirrors report?
Can you imagine the Poles and the Germans on the same ship? Carnage.
I read doha news for the comment section , its so hilarious.
Each National Team could send its fans in their own cruise liner. Job done- no outlay required, just a daily shuttle from QDC to ship, and a ship to shore for matches. No mess, fans only meet at the stadium them have to back on board to have a post match pint. Ships will be well appointed, all home cuisine supplied, as each nation vies to outdo the rest.
And after people are wondering why FIFA picked Qatar to host 2022. Here’s the answer: more business opportunities. While football enthusiasts are having butterflies in the stomach, the entrepreneurs are with smile in their faces.
Do they realize that cruise ships are HUGE POLLUTERS of the seas/oceans? They dump their waste into the water, and I mean waste from toilets. Does Qatar want this kind of waste being dumped into the sea where so many of swim, sail, kayak, paddleboard, wakeboard, kite sail, etc?