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Qatar struggling to build enough rooms for World Cup visitors

Organizers told Reuters they expect to be able to offer up to 130,000 rooms, including hotels, which could leave thousands of fans scrambling for accommodation

The recent 2021 Arab Cup has served as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup Most hotel rooms have already been block-booked by World Cup organizers On the open market on the internet, the cheapest available room there would cost $1,028

Less than a year from today the world’s gaze will be on the World Cup final at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar. The recent 2021 Arab Cup has served as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, but what experience can supporters expect if they want to be part of it?

Organizers told Reuters they expect to be able to offer up to 130,000 rooms, including hotels, which could leave thousands of fans scrambling for accommodation when matches start next November.

A construction frenzy continues at the site of Madinatna (Our City), due to be completed in spring, and at more than two dozen hotel sites.

Asking prices for apartments and villas have recently increased by 5-10%, said a recent real estate market review by Cushman and Wakefield.

Qatar Tourism has also launched a “holiday home” scheme allowing people in Doha to apply for licenses to rent out their homes on platforms like AirBnB or VRBO.

Is it enough?

Hotel rooms expensive and rare

Qatar wants to attract 1.2 million people to the World Cup but will struggle to accommodate many of them, according to AP News.

Hotel in Lusail, Qatar

Qatar already looks sold out.

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 November 21 to December 18, 2022.

Most rooms have already been block-booked by World Cup organizers to ensure availability for teams, FIFA officials, sponsors, and media.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee, which is in charge of World Cup planning, admitted to accommodation challenges and revealed that only some 90,000 rooms will be made available to the public.  

Data modeling by Qatari officials based on travel to previous World Cups shows they now anticipate 850,000 overseas visitors will require rooms.

World Cup organizers have also said more than 1.2 million visitors will come. The most recent data from the Qatar Tourism Authority said there are 33,208 rooms in hotels and hotel apartments.

“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.”

There will be 4,000 cabins on cruise ships that will dock in Doha for the tournament. While camping in the desert had previously been touted as a means of finding space for fans, that is now being downplayed as a significant option.

“The campsite availability will make up a small percentage of the overall accommodation options in Qatar,” the Supreme Committee said. “We have always viewed the ability to camp as an offering of traditional Qatari hospitality, not as a solution to speculation around accommodation shortages.”

Flying in and out of the country for each match could prove to be the only viable option for many fans, which would come with a cost.

The group stage features 32 teams with games across 12 days when Qatar anticipates 559,000 flying in with a peak of 276,000 ticket holders around November 27 and 28 requiring an estimated 128,000 rooms, more than the country’s entire hotel stock for fans.

Just taking November 27, after searching leading travel portals, only three hotels could be booked on the open market on the internet. The cheapest available rooms there would cost $1,028, $1,431 or $5,276 for the night.

When trying to book for the entire tournament on travel portals, the only room the AP could find on the open market was $1,056 a night at a four-star hotel near the airport through Agoda.