Qatar 2022 World Cup will recreate ‘Expo effect’ for UAE hotels

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The first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East promises booming business for UAE hotels in the final quarter of 2022 as thousands of fans flock to the Gulf country due the limited number of accommodations in the neighboring host country, Qatar.

Major local and international hotel chains in the UAE expect to be at or near full capacity during the four-week football tournament, amid strong forward bookings for November and December, senior officials said. hotel.

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are expecting occupancy levels of between 80% and 100%, with strong demand trends similar to those seen during the peak period of Expo 2020 Dubai, they said. they stated.

“We expect our occupancy to be in the mid to high 90s in Dubai and expect performance in Dubai in the fourth quarter to be the same as performance [in the] fourth quarter of 2021 when we had the Expo,” said Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO of UAE-based hotel operator Rotana.

The United Arab Emirates, the popular travel and tourism hub of the Gulf region, is set to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mega sporting event, which kicks off on November 20, according to hospitality industry reports.

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The World Cup is expected to bring a massive influx of visitors to nearby transit hubs such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, boosting demand for international air travel and accommodation.

It is expected to attract 1.2 million tourists to Qatar, bringing the country’s hotel supply pipeline in 2022 alone to around 13,300 rooms, 80% of which fall into the four- or five-star hotel category, according to a report. of Alpen Capital.

With hotels in Qatar fully booked ahead of the game, hotels in the UAE are expected to see an increase in accommodation demand of up to 40%, according to a report by online travel agency Musafir.com.

Shuttle flights operated by regional airlines from Gulf cities on match days and multiple-entry tourist visas for supporters attending matches will facilitate travel for visitors.

Jan Hanak, managing director of the Radisson Hotel Group for the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, said the region was “buzzing” with travelers from Europe and the Middle East to attend the event.

“We have already started to see incredibly positive performance across our hotels and we are certain there will be a trend towards multi-destination travel that will be seen across the region this winter,” he said.

Radisson expects occupancy rates to exceed 80% at its hotels in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“We are waiting for Q4 [the fourth quarter] be extremely busy in the UAE and the region. As we welcome the cooler winter months, we anticipate high room and restaurant occupancy rates [food and beverage] outlets,” Hanak said.

Cooperation between government entities and private operators on logistics – ranging from shuttle flights to visas for fans – should provide a “seamless” travel experience for visitors across the Gulf, he said.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which recently opened the Wyndham Grand Doha West Bay Beach, is also expected to open the Ramada by Wyndham Doha Old Town before the start of the World Cup.

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“We expect all of our properties in Qatar and surrounding countries to be almost fully occupied before, during and after the World Cup,” said Michel Augier, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at Wyndham. Hotels and Resorts.

“The upcoming World Cup will have a positive ripple effect on the hospitality industry across the region as football fans are expected to use neighboring countries as a base for the event, especially the UAE as the weather flight time is only one hour.”

Currently, the group’s hotels and resorts in the region have reported a “significant increase” in revenue, with Dubai properties up 30% this year compared to 2021 and Abu Dhabi properties up 13.9 % per annum, indicating a “healthy position” for forward bookings. , he said.

The World Cup will also coincide with the traditionally busy winter season in the UAE, the holiday season and the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, which will further boost hotel business in the UAE.

“We expect our properties to be very busy as November and December are the start of the high season in the area,” Augier said.

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World Cup ticket holders will stay in neighboring countries for the tournament and fly to and from Qatar for matches, particularly during the group stages, an arrangement that will simultaneously benefit the regional hospitality industry and will help ease the pressure of accommodation in Doha, he said. .

“A particular group of tourists who will benefit from regular flights and easy access to visas are families of tourists, who are already interested in exploring the UAE and who also have members who are football fans,” said Mr Augier.

“We can therefore expect fans to fly to Qatar to watch the matches while their family members stay and vacation in the UAE. When the tournament is over, they might even extend their stay. to enjoy their holidays in the countryside.

These logistical arrangements, coupled with cooler weather, are expected to lead to a 15-20% increase in hotel bookings in November and December, he said.

Marriott International plans to nearly double its presence in Qatar, with 10 hotels planned over the next 15 months, six of which are expected to open ahead of the World Cup.

We can expect fans to fly to Qatar to watch the matches while their family members stay and vacation in the UAE.

Michel Augier, Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

“There is a huge growth story for us. It’s kind of related to the World Cup, but we’re looking at it for the long term,” said Sandeep Walia, Marriott International Middle East COO.

“The fallout will be good too,” he said, pointing to neighboring Gulf cities such as Dubai.

InterContinental Hotels Group, which operates the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, expects an average occupancy rate of 80% in Doha and the United Arab Emirates during the World Cup.

Revenue per available room, an important performance metric for the hospitality industry, is expected to grow 10-15% annually in November and December, said Haitham Mattar, managing director for India, Middle East and India. Africa at IHG Hotels and Resorts. .

Updated: October 14, 2022, 03:49


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