By Shaneer N Siddiqui
Dubai, May 26 (IANS) Considering a shortage of accommodation in Doha for the huge influx of football fans for this year-end’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar, the tourism industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expecting Dubai and other tourist destinations to be the choice of stay by fans who can then commute for matches.
Around 23.5 million enthusiastic football fans from around the world have applied for the tickets and though Qatar is going to add around 5000 more hotel rooms, there is still going to be a shortage, and countries in the GCC region, especially UAE, are expecting to fill the shortfall.
Authorities in UAE are confident that Dubai will be a place of choice to stay for World Cup visitors from other regions. That is the reason Dubai to Qatar airfares have shot up by around 1900 percent for the period between November 21 and December 18 when the World Cup is scheduled.
People associated with the tourism industry in UAE are expecting that travel from UAE to Qatar will be greatly accelerated during the event as football fans will fly to Doha from UAE to watch the matches, thus resulting in a substantial increase in prices.
Data from airlines show that one-way economy class airfare, which ranges from Dh360 (approx INR 7,604.74) to Dh 3,370 (INR 71,188.66approx) as of May 25, has already increased to Dh 7,110 (INR 150,194.30 approx) on November 20, a day before the start of the mega event.
Currently, UAE carriers Flydubai, Etihad, and Air Arabia and Qatar’s national carrier Qatar Airways operate flights between the two Gulf countries. Recently it was reported that Israel would also request Qatar to operate direct flights between the two countries during the FIFA World Cup.
Raheesh Babu, COO, Musafir.com, said that they are still waiting for more clarity from airlines. They are confident that people will be willing to stay outside of Qatar and visit the country for the matches only. Additionally, they are expecting airlines to significantly increase operations to accommodate the demand.
Although Doha has invested heavily in hotel accommodation and infrastructure for the world’s biggest sporting event, a shortfall remains, meaning many will stop for tournaments in neighbouring Gulf countries. Industry people in UAE are expecting Dubai to be their preferred choice.
Dubai-based realtors have said football fans are paying for short-term rentals in the Emirate. This could mean a bumper tourism season for the GCC, especially the UAE. In Dubai, estate agents are already seeing a surge in demand.
Around 23.5 million enthusiastic football fans from around the world have applied for the ticket sales draw. Most applications have been made by fans living in Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Apart from eager applications for the final, the most prestigious matches include Argentina v Mexico, Argentina v Saudi Arabia, England v USA and Poland v Argentina. Ticket applicants will be notified of their fate by email from May 31, 2022, beginning with the scheduled payment period.
Meanwhile, FIFA has told police chiefs of competing countries around the world, at a conference in Doha, that the main security concern of the 2022 World Cup would be controlling hundreds of thousands of football fans in Qatar’s capital.
FIFA Safety Director Helmut Spahn told attendees that securing the most geographically-compact World Cup is one of the tournament’s biggest challenges. The longest distance between any two of the eight stadiums is approximately 70 kilometres. Police representatives from competing countries will assess World Cup stadiums at the conference and evaluate transportation in Doha.