Football fans book 90,000 rooms for Qatar World Cup group stage overnight, no more available – organizer
DOHA (Reuters) – Fans have booked accommodation in more than 90,000 rooms, tents, apartments, villas and portacabins on each of the peak days of the World Cup in Qatar, organizers said on Wednesday, adding that at least 25,000 rooms are still available.
“The market is still open and (fans) have plenty of time to decide and book,” said Omar Al-Jaber, executive director of accommodation for the Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee (SC), organizers of the tournament which begins on November 11. 20.
He stood in a giant tent that will serve as one of seven dining halls in a supporters’ village set up on a stretch of desert hemmed in by highways south of the capital Doha.
For $200 a night, fans can rent one of 6,000 brightly painted aluminum portable booths, arranged in long, straight rows. There is a temporary supermarket, outdoor screens for watching matches and astroturf to reduce dust.
After the tournament, Qatar will donate the portacabins to “poor countries” to use as homes, Al-Jaber said.
Qatar are expecting 1.2 million visitors during the month-long tournament, with a peak expected between November 24-28, during the busy group stage.
On average, fans will spend seven nights in Qatar, Al-Jaber said.
Organizers have introduced more than 500 shuttle flights a day allowing fans to stay in nearby cities like Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, easing concerns that tiny Qatar will face an accommodation shortage.
With a population of 3 million, Qatar has less than 31,000 hotel rooms. The organizers have therefore identified a total of 130,000 rooms in alternative accommodation, converting all available housing stock into temporary accommodation.
Accor, Europe’s largest hotel operator, manages most of the apartments and villas. Three cruise ships will dock at Doha Port to provide more than 5,000 rooms. Some fans will stay in 1,000 modern tents on an artificial island north of Doha, Al-Jaber said.
In case bad weather like sandstorms or rain render tents or fan villages uninhabitable, organizers have set up “emergency rooms in a different area”, especially for people who have chosen to stay in an open space like a fan village, Al-Jaber said.
(Reporting by Imad Creidi and Andrew Mills, Writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Christian Radnedge)