The country hopes to attract more than 1.2 million visitors but most rooms have already been block-booked by tournament organisers.
Inews reports that Qatar is aiming to attract 1.2 million people to the World Cup next year but whether it can accommodate them remains to be seen as its hotels appear to be already fully booked.
Ahead of ticket sales beginning in January, extensive searches by The Associated Press of leading hotel chains and aggregation websites found only one property with availability for the entire tournament, which runs from 21 November to 18 December next year.
Most rooms have already been block-booked by World Cup organisers, in part to prevent price gouging, but mainly to ensure availability for teams, Fifa officials, sponsors and media.
“If a team is qualified, it’s now that people are trying to find accommodation,” Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe group, told AP. “And at the moment there is nothing.”
Qatar’s Supreme Committee, which is in charge of World Cup planning, has provided the first details acknowledging the accommodation challenges after weeks of questions.
Only approximately 90,000 rooms will be made available to the public via a website.
That is equivalent to roughly number of fans from the United States who had tickets for the 2018 World Cup, which was spread across Russia and had hotels available on the open market.
But it is understood that surveys and data modelling by Qatari officials based on travel to previous World Cups show they now anticipate that 850,000 overseas visitors will require rooms.
World Cup organisers have also said that more than 1.2 million visitors will come. But the most recent data from the Qatar Tourism Authority said there were 33,208 rooms in hotels and hotel apartments.
What Qatar boasts as being its key selling point – the most compact World Cup ever with eight stadiums within a 30-mile radius of Doha could prove the barrier to fans being able to make lengthy trips.
“It becomes a bit of a dystopian World Cup if the stadium could be anywhere in the world … in the middle of the desert and then you just fly in and out,” Mr Evain said. “That’s certainly not the experience the majority of fans are looking for.”
Despite the pressures on hotel stock in Qatar, there will be no system in place to equitably split the rooms between fans of participating
nations or prevent them being bought up for the entire tournament en masse.
“There will be no ballot,” the Supreme Committee told the AP. “Visitors will be able to book on the accommodation portal on a first
come, first served basis.”
Qatar will also not allow one-night stays. “As is standard practice in many events around the world minimum and maximum lengths of stay will be applied,” the Supreme Committee said.
“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.”
(Story source: Inews)