Qatar is expecting company. The Arab state on the Persian Gulf has launched a $100 billion infrastructure program since being announced last year as the host of the 2022 World Cup. Part of the infrastructure being developed ahead of this mega event is a large amount of hotel rooms.
Currently, 77 new hotels and 42 hotel/apartments are slated for completion, which will add a total of more than 21,000 new hotel rooms across the country by the end of this year, mostly in Doha. About 6,300 opened in 2011 alone, according to Breaking Travel News. Qatar is roughly the size of Los Angeles County and home to just 1.6 million. This article from early 2011 notes that the Qatar Tourism Authority was hoping to see about 1.25 million visitors in 2011.
By comparison, New York City has more than 70,000 hotel rooms and attracts more than 48 million visitors a year. Metropolitan Las Vegas currently has about 150,000 hotel rooms and attracts about 36 million a year.
Qatar, and more specifically Doha, on the other hand, is relatively new to the tourist circuit. Though its hotel building spree seems to be a clear indication of its ambitions to become a major tourism destination, the numbers aren’t really backing up what would appear to be hotel room speculation. According to the Qatar Tourism Authority, hotel occupancy in the third quarter of 2011 was 48 percent. That’s an increase of 4 percent since the year before, but not exactly record breaking. But with an estimated $20 billion being invested in tourism between now and 2022, Qatar is hoping to be able to boost that occupancy rate.
The new Doha International Airport is set to open later this year. And as Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman Ahmed Abdullah Al-Nuaimi tells Breaking Travel News, “We have a new airport to accommodate 50 million people coming in through Qatar. We are targeting 5 percent of the 50 million people – which is 2.5 million coming to the country in addition to what we already have.”
"We are developing 80 to 100,000 rooms for the 2022 World Cup,” he said.
But with only 400,000 expected to visit for the World Cup in 2022, Doha and Qatar as a whole will have to market themselves as much more of a draw if they’re going to be able to fill up so many hotel rooms after the World Cup’s over.
Photo credit: Fadi Al-Assaad / Reuters