With just a month to go before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar, Dubai’s hotels are reporting an extraordinary increase in bookings. Chadi Chidiac, managing partner of Protocol Hospitality Management and Consultancy, tells us more about how the UAE is benefiting from the event.
Football fans around the world are eagerly awaiting the opening of the FIFA World Cup. Thousands are even traveling to Gulf state to watch the matches live, which run from November 20 to December 18. However, with hotels in Qatar operating at full capacity, many are using neighboring countries — including the United Arab Emirates — as a base to travel to and from the tournament.
As one of the UK’s largest hotel brands, with a growing number of hotels in the Middle East, Premier Inn is preparing for an influx of guests at its 11 properties in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Simon Leigh, GM of Premier Inn MENA, said: “The World Cup, which falls during the peak travel season for inbound tourists, will be another boost for the tourism and hospitality sectors, and will further establish the UAE and the wider region as a premier destination for visitors from around the world.”
Leigh added that although the event itself is taking place in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates will act a key hub for fans, whether they are ticket holders traveling on shuttle flights to the games or tourists and residents. He also said the company is witnessing greater demand for bookings at all of its hotels, including the recently opened Premier Inn Barsha Heights, where occupancy is already at 70 percent during the World Cup period. “As always, there is also a great appetite for our airport hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where customers book accommodation before their flight or upon arrival in the country.”
“We have already seen an increase in searches for rooms for November in recent weeks and expect a large number of ticket holders to move to Dubai throughout the FIFA World Cup,” said Saad al-Ghamdi, complex director of sales and marketing for a host of hotels in Dubai, including Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Le Meridien Fairway, Aloft Dubai Airport, Aloft Al Mina, Element Dubai Airport and Element Al Mina. “With four of our properties being so close to the airport, we are confident that we will see an increase in group and transient bookings for those wishing to use the match day shuttle services provided by regional airlines,” he continued.
While football fans are snapping up Dubai’s luxury short-term rentals, private jet companies in the UAE are seeing an increase in booking for day trips to the football World Cup.
Brake bump in the last quarter of 2022
An exceptional boom in tourist activity in the last quarter of 2022 is expected in Dubai. Indeed, hotels in Dubai Creek and Festival City are expecting to see the biggest increase in occupancy rates since 2021, up 19 percent to around 77 percent for the year. At the Radisson Dubai DAMAC Hills, general manager Siddhartha Sattanathan predicts that events other than the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be driving group bookings. “Besides the World Cup, we are also looking to capitalize on the demand generated for other major events related to other sports, like golf, Formula One and rugby. And let’s not forget that this month has always been one of the busiest given pleasant weather conditions.”
Over 1.2 million World Cup tickets sold
Earlier this month, organizers revealed that more than 1.2 million tickets have been sold for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, almost half Qatar’s population. The most recent phase of sales — a raffle — ended at the end of April, with 23.5 million ticket requests flooding in, the greatest numbers of which came from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States, according to FIFA.
A total of two million tickets will be available during the 28-day tournament in November and December, said Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy. The next opportunity to purchase World Cup tickets will be on a first-come, first-served basis, although the date for this has not been announced.
Industry professionals anticipate a strong uptick in hotel activity in Q4 2022. In fact, hotels anticipate that many visitors will stay in the Emirates in advance or immediately after the matches to continue taking advantage of the atmosphere in the area.