Dubai hotels expect to be close to full capacity in the final months of the year as tens of thousands of football fans plan to use neighboring countries as a base for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar .
Fan groups are booking hotels in the emirate in droves, with up to 100 fans planning to settle in a single hotel and travel to Doha for matches in November and December.
The greatest interest has come from nations with a long history of success at the FIFA World Cup, which takes place every four years and makes its first appearance in the Middle East from November 21.
Supporters of South American teams and European powers are creating the most demand for hotel rooms as fans expect their nations to reach the final stages of the tournament.
David Allen, cluster general manager for Radisson Hotels, said group bookings were being taken in large numbers.
“As there is little to no availability in Qatar, we are seeing a lot of interest here,” he said.
“The group types are booked by the most traditionally successful nations in the World Cup, such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Germany.
“A lot of South Americans book as a group, so they will clearly have a strong base here.
“Between 50 and 100 reservations are made at a time.”
The UAE an obvious choice
Accommodation in Doha for football fans traveling to Qatar is mixed.
From designated fan camps in temporary housing units 40 minutes outside of town, to cruise ships docked in the glittering West Bay, to city hotels and Airbnb-style options, many are expensive or already complete.
Mr Allen said Dubai is an obvious choice for many.
“We have to be wary of rival supporters grouping together, so we make sure we don’t have group bookings for teams from Holland and Germany for example,” he said.
“It’s something we are aware of, but it’s just common sense. I don’t expect there to be any problems.
The United Arab Emirates has become an attractive option for fans, with Air Arabia and flydubai operating a combined total of more than 45 daily shuttle flights from Dubai and Sharjah to Doha.
The trip is only open to match ticket holders with a valid Hayya fan ID card and Qatar tourist visa, arriving in Doha at least four hours before a match and departing four hours after.
Many hotels in Dubai are expected to operate mini fanzones and erect large screens from which games can be enjoyed during the month-long tournament.
“The upcoming Qatar World Cup has created a climate of optimism in the tourism sector, with an increase in hotel bookings across the UAE for the November period and beyond,” said Varun Ahuja. , Director of Sales at Aloft Dubai South.
“We have confirmed hotel bookings from transients and fan groups, mainly from Latin America, the UK and Germany.
“We are also starting to see family bookings with a very healthy length of stay of between five and seven days.”
Busy season for the region
The hotel will provide a shuttle service to nearby Dubai World Central Airport for fans traveling to Doha.
Kim Iskandar, vice president and chief commercial officer for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, for Hilton Hotels, said demand was high in the United Arab Emirates in November.
“With the announcement of shuttle flights to Doha, the United Arab Emirates is an excellent choice for football fans visiting Qatar and looking to explore the wider region,” she said.
Abu Dhabi’s Rotana capitalizes on demand
Rotana Hotels is one group to have developed new accommodation options in Qatar, specifically for the World Cup.
The group has taken over management of the 250-room Sedra Arjaan hotel on The Pearl Island and is opening a new 503-room Residences by Rotana property in time for the World Cup.
Guy Hutchinson, president and chief executive of Rotana, said occupancy rates would likely reach close to 100% during the tournament.
“I am confident that we will see an immediate impact on the FIFA World Cup region, with neighboring countries benefiting as key transit hubs with efficient connectivity and advanced accommodation options,” he said. he declares.
“The recent announcement of several Gulf airlines cooperating to offer visitors daily shuttle flights to Qatar will allow fans to stay in cities like Dubai and fly for the day, ensuring a busy season for the whole region.
“This will lead to an overflow of domestic and international travel demand, not only to Qatar but also to all neighboring countries.”
Colliers’ analysis in its latest Mena Hotel Forecast suggests a huge rebound for the tourism industry will be unleashed in the final quarter of 2022.
Hotels in Dubai Creek and Festival City are expected to see the biggest increase in occupancy rates since 2021, up 19% to around 77% for the year, according to the Colliers report.
Hotels in the DIFC and along Sheikh Zayed Road are expected to see a 17% increase to 73% occupancy, with a 17% increase at Abu Dhabi Beach hotels to around 64% occupancy.
Other neighboring markets were also expected to benefit from the World Cup, with Saudi Arabia also seeing a strong rise due to the return of the Pilgrims in 2022.
In Mecca, a 106% increase in occupancy compared to 2021 and an 80% increase are expected in Medina.
Bahrain’s occupancy rate is expected to increase by 9%, Kuwait will see 24% more hotel stays, while hotels in Amman, Jordan will be 33% busier in 2022 than the previous year.
However, the Colliers report predicts that a strong end to 2022 could be tempered by global instability and rising fuel costs which could impact the tourism sector well into 2023.
“The FIFA World Cup is expected to cause demand to spill over to key transit hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” the report said.
“However, growing instability in key CIS source markets is expected to suppress demand, with the biggest impacts expected in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.
“Given the diversity of source markets for the UAE, additional hotel demand may be driven by alternative markets at lower price positioning.”
Additional reporting by John Dennehy
Updated: July 18, 2022, 04:24