Qatar floats cruise-ship plan to add 6,000 hotel rooms for World Cup

Qatar Tourism Authority reportedly revives idea for ‘floating hotels’ to house players and football fans during FIFA competition

PHOTO: Qatar reportedly plans to bring in cruise ships to provide 6,000 hotel rooms. (Picture for illustrative purposes only). Credit: Shutterstock

The Qatar Tourism Authority plans to contract at least 6,000 rooms on cruise ships to accommodate visitors to the upcoming World Cup in 2022, according to media reports.

The authority is reviving an idea to accommodate some football fans and guests in “floating hotels,” as the country races to increase its accommodation supply in the run-up to the World Cup, Doha News reported.

According to FIFA guidelines, Qatar must have a minimum of 60,000 rooms available during the event for fans, players, and officials. The nation, however, pledged in 2010 to develop 100,000 rooms by the time the tournament begins. This is part of a wider strategy to have 80 new hotels and apartment hotels operating within the next five years.

The idea of commissioning floating hotels first came about at a Cityscape conference two years ago, where plans were unveiled for a $5.5 billion Oryx Island project to be built by Barwa Real Estate. The project would add some 25,000 rooms to the hotel pipeline, with cruise ships docked at the island. The plan, however, was reportedly scrapped a year later.

Despite Qatar’s ambitious plans to step up its hospitality offering, analysts have raised concerns about a potential oversupply of hotel rooms after the event.

A 2014 Deloitte report forecast that based on previous numbers, Qatar would only be able to support 38,000 rooms after the tournament, based on room occupancy of approximately 60%.

Matthew Green, head of research at the consultancy CBRE in the UAE, told in a recent interview that Qatar would need to significantly upgrade its leisure offering to attract tourists in order to avoid the issue of a possible oversupply.

“The leisure side of the market is very immature at this point. There’s no major leisure drivers really. So that’s something that they really will have to expand upon and improve upon if they do not want to be left with an overhang of properties when it comes to the end of that event,” he pointed out.

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