The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be happening in the Arab nations for the first time this year. It is also the second event in the Arab nations after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. Qatar’s stakes are extremely high with the world moving away from its oil. Such major events bring in a lot of tourists and income to the host nation. While this boosts the country’s economy, it also means that the host must ensure enough infrastructure to host everyone.
As demand increases, supply should also increase. Hotels and other accommodations have raised prices sky-high to maximize this increased demand. Qatar Tourism’s ‘Holiday Home Plan’ is a step towards increasing affordable accommodation. They have called upon locals to rent their homes to visitors and tourists. Accor, a hotel chain, has partnered with Qatari Tourism to provide tourists with apartments and villas. People have already started to arrive in large numbers to witness the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This is what we call sports tourism.
Sports tourism has been witnessing massive growth in the past few years. Fans have thronged sporting arenas to witness their favorite athletes participate in their favorite sport. Mega sporting events such as World Cups, Olympics, and more put the host country on the economic and socio-political map if infrastructure development and destination branding is properly leveraged.
What is Sports Tourism?
Sports tourism is when people choose to travel to witness and enjoy a sporting event or activity. This can be traveling for personal sporting reasons, such as a training course, district-level badminton competition, or to witness the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar or the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. At the same time, it is also important to include nostalgic or touristic visits to the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, the NFL Hall of Fame in Ohio, or the Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana.
The global sports tourism market was valued at $323,420 Mn in 2020. It is expected to reach $1,803,704 Mn by 2030. This is a whopping 458% increase! Countries all over are realizing the importance of driving sports tourism to drive their economies. Organizing such mega events helps put the country on the map. It shows that they are reliable in carrying on extreme tasks other than what they are known for.
Qatar and FIFA World Cup 2022
Qatar is the third richest country in the world, with a GDP of 144.4 Mn for a population of 2.8 Mn. The country has been banking on its oil reserve for a long time. However, the country needed something else with the world slowly but steadily shifting towards renewable energy! The FIFA World Cup 2022 is the event that will let the world know that they are massive and ready to change priorities.
Qatar is the third richest country in the world with a GDP of $144.4 Mn for a population of approx. 3 Mn. The country has been banking on its oil reserve. However, it needs something more sustainable as the world is moving towards renewable energy sources. The FIFA World Cup 2022 will show the world that Qatar is ready for business.
“We have come such a long way in a relatively short space of time,” said Hassan Al Thawadi, General Secretary of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC). “Hosting the World Cup has accelerated the development of our great country – in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. We have built incredible infrastructure, developed a world-class sports and events industry, and delivered human and social projects to benefit people in Qatar and around the world.”
How has the country been preparing for the event?
Compared to Russia, which hosted the last FIFA World Cup in 2018, Qatar is 1478 times smaller. The nation has had to build a lot of infrastructures to ensure it is ready to host the World Cup. With this, there are a lot of firsts at this mega event. Qatar Foundation and FIFA have partnered to engage young people with different abilities in football through their Football for Schools app.
This is the first time the event will be conducted in the year’s second half. Western countries have historically conducted the event during summer. However, the desert nation would be unbearable during the summer. So, it is being conducted in the winter in fully air-conditioned stadiums. This is also the first time the matches will be conducted in only 8 stadiums. FIFA World Cup is usually conducted in 12 stadiums of the host nation, as seen in Brazil and Russia. Qatar presently has only one stadium. It is building 7 more. The country has also built infrastructure to support transit between stadiums and accommodations.
How is Qatar managing accommodation?
Qatar authorities are expecting to host around 850,000 visitors according to past events. Most hotel rooms have already been blocked for FIFA, associated bureaucrats, international and national media, sponsors, and of course, the athletes. Hotel rooms are now available as part of Qatar Airways ticket offers that combine match tickets, rooms, and flight tickets.
Even then, the numbers look a little tricky. For the tournament’s first two weeks, all 32 teams and their fans will be in the country. The organizers are estimated to host 559,000 visitors. Peak demand will be on 27th-28th November when the organizers expect 276,000 ticket holders, amongst others, to visit Qatar.
One important thing to remember is that people will not stay for one night only. They would be planning a week or a two-week stay at the minimum. Also, the number of rooms needed will never be the same as the ticket holders. Most of them might share rooms; they might be family, friends, or groups of people who have come together. Qatar has to plan accommodation for nearly 130,000 hotel rooms and other rental properties.
While Qatar has already built massive pieces of infrastructure, the requirement is still high. As of spring 2022, over 33,000 hotel rooms in Qatar are available to be booked. Only 25% of the requirement. The Supreme Committee of Qatar has promised another 25,000 hotel rooms by November. Even this falls short of the requirement, and most of these are expensive 5-star hotels.
What are the other options available for tourists?
Madinatna, a new satellite city 15 miles outside Doha, is quickly building more accommodation for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Nearly two dozen hotels and a huge rental apartment complex will be able to house about 27,000 fans.
Besides this, the host nation has collaborated with Coachella and the Glastonbury festival organizers to build tents in the desert outside Doha.
The Qatari organizers also plan multiple shuttle flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE, Muscat in Oman, and other neighboring cities and countries. Fans and tourists can stay in the neighboring cities and countries while shuttling to the event. There are about 160 shuttle flights planned per day. There are also huge cruise ships docked along the city’s shore and floating hotels to house fans during the mega sporting event. They are also refurbishing Doha’s old airport to accommodate more people within the city.
How do you register to host during the FIFA World Cup 2022?
Qatar’s citizens and residents can host relatives, friends, and tourists visiting the nation for the FIFA World Cup 2022. However, they must register with the Qatar accommodation agency and get a Hayya card. Tourists are now being allowed to the country only with the Hayya card. A sports tourist will be allowed inside the stadium only if they have this card and a valid ticket.
Hosts must register their accommodation with their passport numbers and unit details to host friends and family members. A single resident or citizen of Qatar can host up to ten individuals during the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Please keep a track of the official Hayya portal for further details.
How to host sports tourists during the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022?
People worldwide flock to Doha to see their star players showcase their talents. There will be much excitement and confusion for international fans and tourists. Try to make them as comfortable as possible in your city by following various Airbnb hosting tips and tricks.
1. Make sure all of their documents and yours are in place
Once you get a booking via Airbnb or other channel managers, send them a welcome message along with the things they need to remember while planning their visit to Doha. Are there any special laws they need to remember? Have the applied for the Hayya card? Are there socio-political factors they need to be careful about?
Give them safety tips and planning guidelines to ensure their safe and enjoyable trip to Qatar.
Remember, most of the visitors might be from western countries. They may not be used to the dry heat of the middle-east. Provide them with guidelines for managing the heat and packing necessary things. You can take a little extra step to ensure your guests are safe and have a great time at your place.
2. Chart Out Transportation
If you are within the city limits, create a guideline for them to access public transport. With the Hayya card, they have free access to all public transport. There are special shuttle buses also available. Guide your guests towards them.
If you are hosting somewhere in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or the neighboring cities, try finding affordable and comfortable transportation for your guests. There are shuttle flights available; keep a schedule handy, so your guests can access them whenever needed. They will also need transportation to and from the airport. Try and figure out that as well. It will be another thing you can do to ensure you can provide an exceptional guest experience.
3. Give Them a Taste of Your Culture
They have traveled miles to reach your city to experience the world cup. Make sure you can give them a little taste of the middle-eastern culture. Try to have traditional meals at the accommodation. If you are based out of Dubai, people would also like to visit the famous tourist attractions in the city. You can collaborate with a tourist guide to take them around. There are some fine restaurants in the city. You can also list the best restaurants for them to visit.
4. Try to be more language inclusive
Fans are going to be at Doha from all over the world. Many of them might not be able to understand Arabic. You can maybe have a translator at your accommodation or use the various AI-based translation apps available online. This goes right from your description to the language used in the accommodation.
You can also avoid the language barrier by using as many icons and drawings as possible around the accommodation. For example, for a no smoking sign, rather than spelling it out, you can use the drawing – 🚭. The top 10 countries with the maximum ticket holders are Qatar, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the UAE, and the USA. While most countries are English-speaking, you must be sensitive to French, German, and Spanish speakers.
5. Charge yourself properly
With the FIFA World Cup 2022 happening in Doha, the demand would skyrocket. You must ensure you have priced your property to compete with this huge inflow of tourists in your city. Identifying the fluctuating points of demand in your locality while also analyzing your competitors is difficult. You must depend on technology to automate your pricing according to your area’s demand. You can utilize PriceLabs Dynamic Pricing Solutions and Market Dashboard to identify market trends, identify the amenities you can provide, and alter your pricing strategy accordingly.
1. Set a Minimum Night and Cancellation Policies
Qatar Accommodation Agency has set minimum night restrictions at different stages of the tournament. According to the property type and the tournament stage, they have instituted a minimum night policy that all accommodations must follow during this time. Go through the website to understand the policy and alter your Airbnb pricing strategies accordingly. If you do not alter your pricing according to these restrictions, you might end up with an empty property in the middle of the game when your price is sky high.
Towards the end of the game, people looking for a property will be looking to stay for the closing ceremony. The Qatar Accommodation Agency also has cancellation policies in place. The policy is pretty strict. Ensure you communicate this with your guest at the beginning and the welcome message.
2. Set Appropriate Cleaning Fees, Amenities fees, and any other Fees
Guests coming into your property are going to expect a clean property. You must maintain an Airbnb cleaning checklist to provide a clean property to your guests. Maintaining a clean property is not easy; you need to charge the right cleaning fee to your guests. During a mega-sporting event such as this, you will also provide more amenities than usual; there will also be more wear and tear. Remember this when you price these amenities. You can provide a few complimentary and a few at an extra cost. Choose them wisely while calculating the price you will incur in maintaining them.
The country won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It has since been preparing to host the mega-sporting event and present its valor to the world. You can do your part by hosting a fan in your accommodation.