Fifa World Cup: Qatar to increase hotel keys to 56,000 by 2025

Capacity will be temporarily boosted by an additional 3,900 cabins in two luxury cruise ships moored off the coast; and a third is being planned



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP
by

Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Tue 18 Oct 2022, 11:53 AM

Qatar may invest up to $7 billion in hospitality industry to increase hotel keys to 56,000 by 2025, says a latest report.

As the Gulf state is gearing up for Fifa World Cup, the global property consultancy firm Knight Frank said Qatar hospitality sector is expected to grow by 89 per cent in next three years.

“Officially, around 30,000 keys had been delivered by the end of 2021, and we estimate that another 3,800 keys will have been delivered by the time the World Cup commences next month," Adam Stewart, partner and head of Qatar at Knight Frank, said.

He said Qatar’s hotel capacity will be temporarily boosted by an additional 3,900 cabins in two luxury cruise ships moored off the coast; and a third is being planned.

In addition, cabin-style rooms across seven fan villages, designed to house the one million fans expected to descend on the State during the World Cup are also being rapidly assembled.

“Looking beyond the World Cup, however, reveals some incredible ambitions. The tourism and hospitality sector is expected to contribute 12 per cent of GDP by 2030, making it worth about $55bn, by which time tourist arrivals are forecast to be closing in on seven million,” he said.

Faisal Durrani, partner and head of Middle East Research at Knight Frank, said nearly 27,000 hotel keys are expected to be delivered in Qatar during the next three years.

“While there is palpable excitement in Doha as the Fifa World Cup draws near, for the country’s hospitality sector the best is yet to come. Indeed, with nearly 27,000 hotel keys expected to be delivered in the next three years, there will be a phenomenal change in Qatar’s hotel offering by the end of 2025," he said.

He said the near doubling in capacity to over 56,000 rooms will be in a post-World Cup environment and comes as the country prepares for an anticipated visitor influx following heightened interest in Qatar once the excitement of the World Cup subsides.

“Indeed, with new theme park attractions planned in Lusail such as the new Winter Wonderland and Aquatar on Qetaifan Island, which promises to deliver the world’s tallest waterslide, the seeds of a vibrant tourism and hospitality market are starting to take shape.”

Knight Frank says tourist arrivals are slowly recovering as the authorities begin to scale back Covid-linked travel restrictions, with arrivals from the GCC states already starting to exceed pre-pandemic levels. That said, visitors from India, which has historically been the biggest source of inbound arrivals, are still about a third lower than they were in 2019.

Operator league table shake up

Knight Frank’s research has also revealed that a change in top hotel operators is expected by 2025, with IHG for instance, dropping out of the top three by number of rooms under management.

Durrani said the Marriott Group will continue to fortify its position as Qatar’s leading hotel operator, with about 8,800 rooms under management by 2025, up 152 per cent on today.

"Accor and Hilton Hotels & Resorts will round off the top three, together controlling nearly 19,000 rooms, or a third of total hotel keys. The big change however will be in the form of IHG slipping to fourth place, with about 3,500 rooms, from second place today,” he said.

And that’s not the only change. Knight Frank’s analysis also shows international operators claiming a larger market share by 2025.

“Interestingly, by the end of 2025, international hoteliers will control 62 per cent of Qatar’s hotel keys, up from 59 per cent today. In reality this could be even higher as 17 per cent of rooms are yet to be allocated to an operator,” Stewart said.

Luxury all the way

Turab Saleem, partner and head of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, said the focus of hospitality sector will remain on premium segment.

“Like other markets in the region, the focus is very much on the higher end of the price spectrum. Just 14 per cent of the expected hotel keys are in the three star and lower category; however, this is the segment that could present the greatest opportunity to transform Qatar’s appeal to a wider audience, particularly in the wake of the World Cup which will put the country in the global spotlight,” he said.

Knight Frank’s analysis shows that 76 per cent of planned rooms will be classed as either four-star or five stars. Today, 69 per cent of Qatar’s hotel rooms fall into this category.

“One consideration for operators will be to actively target tourists looking for affordable, or budget-holidays, perhaps through the provision of all-inclusive packages which are already very popular in markets such as Spain, Greece, Turkey and the Caribbean,” Durrani said.

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