At least 1.2 million people are expected to visit Qatar for the first ever Arab hosted FIFA World Cup.
Leading hotel chains in Qatar are reportedly running low on accommodations for visiting football fans traveling to the Gulf state to attend the much-anticipated FIFA World Cup 2022, according to a report by the Associated Press [AP].
The American news agency said that its findings were based on “extensive searches” of “leading hotel chains and aggregation websites”, in which it found only one property that still has availability for every day of the tournament.
Next year’s World Cup, the first in the Middle East, is going to take place from 21 November until 18 December.
The AP stated that most rooms have been block-booked by World Cup organisers in an effort to prevent increases in prices while ensuring they are available for teams, FIFA officials, sponsors, and the media.
Based on its findings, the only room the AP was able to find in the open market cost $1,056 a night at a four-star hotel near Hamad International Airport [HIA] through the booking website Agoda.
Meanwhile, leading hotel brands such as Accor, Hilton, The Intercontinental and Marriott are showing no availability for rooms in their 28 properties in and around Doha.
Based on the news agency’s report, approximately 90,000 rooms are going to be available for the public through a website. This is almost the equivalent of the number of US fans who booked tickets for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The AP has also been told that assessments by Qatari officials, based on travel to previous World Cups, showed that the Gulf state anticipated 850,000 overseas visitors who will be in need of a hotel room.
Citing recent data from the Qatari Tourism Authority, the most recent figures show that there are 33,208 rooms in Qatar, but that number is likely to be significantly higher with the high-pace of construction in the country where new properties are completed every month.
Speaking to the AP, Qatar’s World Cup organising body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy [SC], acknowledged the concerns raised over the availability of accommodation.
The SC said that “visitors will be able to book on the accommodation portal on a first come, first served basis” and there is no system in place to either split the rooms between fans of participating countries or prevent them from being booked en masse.
Doha News has reached out to the SC for further comments on the matter, but has yet to receive a response.
However, the SC told the AP that Qatar will not allow one-night stays for fans in order to ensure rooms are available for other visitors.
“As is standard practice in many events around the world minimum and maximum lengths of stay will be applied,” added the SC.
“This will be a minimum of two nights for the group stages — the same as in Russia. Long stay bookings will be possible, and even more so for visitors keen to stay for the entire tournament,” noted the Qatari organising body.
With 32 teams playing in the group stage for 12 days, Qatar anticipates 559,000 visitors flying to the Gulf state and a peak of 276,000 ticket holders from 27-to-28 November, who will also require an estimate of 129,000 rooms.
Cruise ships containing 4,000 cabins will also be available in Qatar for the World Cup.
Commenting on the desert campsites, the SC said that they will make up a small percentage of overall accommodation options to provide fans with a cultural experience.
“We have always viewed the ability to camp as an offering of traditional Qatari hospitality, not as a solution to speculation around accommodation shortages,” said the SC.
The AP report comes a day after Qatar Airways rolled out all-inclusive packages ahead of the World Cup for each of the group stages, knockout matches, quarter-final games, semi-finals and final matches.
The prices vary depending on the city of departure, hotels and match ticket seat categories.
Each package includes an international round trip ticket from the city of departure to Doha, accommodation in any category of choice with daily breakfast and match tickets to certain games as per the chosen package.