Flight bookings to Qatar boom for World Cup, especially from Dubai

The strong demand comes despite the requirement to present a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country



By Reuters

Published: Tue 11 Oct 2022, 3:40 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Oct 2022, 2:37 PM

Flight bookings to Qatar are booming for the soccer World Cup being held in November and December, with particularly strong demand from the UAE as fans work around a shortage of accommodation in Doha, a study showed on Tuesday.

Flight bookings to Qatar from the UAE and nine other countries have risen 10-fold compared with before the pandemic, travel analysis group Forward Keys said.

From the UAE, they have rocketed 103 times compared with 2016 — the last year before the UAE halted direct flights to the country. Flights resumed in early 2021.

"The UAE's strong showing is explained by a shortage of accommodation in Qatar," ForwardKeys said, adding many fans were expected to stay in Dubai.

The strong demand comes despite the requirement to present a negative Covid-19 test to enter Qatar.

Air travel across the Gulf is set to benefit, with flight bookings to the region 16 per cent ahead of 2019, and for the early stages of the World Cup 61 per cent ahead, ForwardKeys said.

Fans will also travel to other destinations in the region, with the number of visitors spending at least two nights in Qatar then at least two in another Gulf country rising sixteen times compared with before the pandemic.

US tourists make up 26 per cent of such visitors, with Canadians second at 10% and Britons third at 9 per cent.

"Dubai is the biggest beneficiary of this trend by far, capturing 65 per cent of onward visits," ForwardKeys said.

Qatar Tourism reported 31,123 hotel rooms in the country at the end of the first quarter.

Fifa, world soccer's governing body, has booked 80 per cent of available rooms for players, guests and officials during the tournament, Qatar's World Cup organisers said. Fifa is expected to release rooms it will not need into the market over the next few weeks.

Dubai has 115,000 hotel rooms and 25,000 rental apartments, travel data firm OAG said last week.

Qatar Airways and flydubai, working together, will operate some 54 flights a day between Dubai and Qatar, versus just six scheduled previously, OAG said.

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