Many soccer enthusiasts choose to stay in Dubai rather than go to Qatar to witness the matches.
Before the final kickoff of the biggest athletic event in the area, hotels and homestays in the UAE are experiencing a significant uptick. During the Qatar World Cup, many experts anticipate 100 percent occupancy and at least a 20 percent boost in hotel rates. Industry insiders anticipate that the country’s hospitality sector would grow as a result of the football extravaganza.
“The demand for rooms during the World Cup is causing a surge in prices, with a 20 percent increase in room rates, especially during the group stages,” said Varun Ahuja, Director of Sales at Aloft Dubai South. “Being a hotel close to the airport, we have a robust pipeline of individual and group bookings from (match) ticket holders, and we expect demand for accommodation to spike again in August and September”
Millions of fans are anticipated to attend the 2022 Fifa world cup, which is slated to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18. Due to its lack of accommodations, the nation has earlier announced shuttle services from neighboring nations to handle the surge of tourists.
Best of Both Worlds
For the duration of the World Cup, many hotels and homestays anticipate full or nearly full occupancy rates.
Saeed Al Zubaidi
“People are preferring to stay in Dubai and travel to Qatar to watch the games since it is just 30 minutes away by plane,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi, CEO of Like Home by Dar Al Zain Vacation Homes Rental.
“That way they can visit Dubai while attending the World Cup in Qatar. It’s the best of both worlds. Due to that, holiday home prices have gone up making it a high season with an occupancy rate expected to reach 100%. We are currently focusing on increasing the properties under our management in order to accommodate as many people as we can.”
Leading UAE carriers Air Arabia and flydubai have announced shuttle services to Qatar, increasing the number of daily flights between the two nations to more than 60. Only individuals with legitimate match tickets will be permitted to board these aircraft. In order to enter the stadium and use the Doha metro’s free transportation to and from stadiums, travelers will also require a Hayya Card.
The Qatar World Cup organizers sold 1.2 million tickets, according to information released by Fifa last week. The final batch is still available for purchase until 12 p.m. on August 16 on a first-come, first-served basis. Sponsors and residents of Qatar receive priority access to some of the tickets.
“The high demand for rooms in the UAE comes as many ticket holders are considering Dubai as a base from where they will take advantage of the daily shuttle service to Doha that is operating from the Al Maktoum International Airport,” said Ahuja.
“We envision that we will be operating at nearly full occupancy around the world cup period and there will be a huge mix of both families and bachelor groups,” said Philippe d’Amat, General Manager of Al Habtoor Polo Resort Dubai. “So far we have seen more bachelor group bookings for this period and our suites are very popular as they come with their own private pool and provide a private escape for our guests”
Expat Sports, a sports tourism company, has experienced a huge increase in demand for its one-of-a-kind football fan packages, which include complimentary shuttle buses to Dubai fan zones and daily flights to Qatar, among other advantages.
“The package went on sale to our global sports tourism network late last week and we have already secured a 150-member booking from the UK,” said Sue Holt, Executive Director of Expat Sports. “It is the first hotel experience of its kind curated for football fans, so this was a welcome addition to the Dubai hospitality landscape.”
The experience will see the soon-to-be-opened NH Dubai The Palm, located on the West Bay side of the Palm Jumeirah, converted into a hotspot for football fans, and those staying here will receive tickets and discounts to Dubai-based fan zones and enjoy sports challenges and competitions during their stay.
Many visitors are opting to make the most of their stay in Dubai during the period, with demand for add-ons to hotel packages going up.
“While some clients prefer the standard packages, we also have several opting for customized packages with additional services that include catering, pick and drop, sight-seeing, butler services, and more,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi.
“Ticket holders are looking for affordability, comfort, and convenience,” said Ahuja. “We are seeing bookings for standard packages with breakfast and the addition of lunch or dinner, including added benefits like shuttle bus service to the airport.”
Loyal football fans
The highest demand for bookings has come from countries that have a long history with football, and many are opting for large group bookings.
“Some of the nationalities currently inquiring and booking with us are from USA, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and India. Looks like these are the most dedicated fanbases,” said Saeed Al Zubaidi. “The largest group booking with us so far is a group of 10 people.”
Others in the industry have reported similar trends.
“The hotel has confirmed bookings from individuals and fan groups, mainly coming from Latin America, the UK, and Germany,” said Ahuja. “We have two groups with 15 and 20 rooms booked respectively to stay at our hotel during the group stages.”
“The initial interest has been strong from the South American countries including Argentina & Brazil,” said Sue Holt. “And we are seeing a majority of groups of friends booking our experience.”
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