The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will boost the value of the Gulf’s tourism and hospitality market by 10 percent, the man in charge of the event’s organising committee has claimed.
In a speech in the Qatari capital Doha yesterday, the Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee, Hassan Al Thawadi, said the high-profile event can have a huge effect on visitor numbers to the region that lasts long after the final ball has been kicked.
Al Thawadi said his team have been studying the impact a successful Olympics or World Cup have had on previous hosts, and is particularly keen to emulate the experience of the Spanish city of Barcelona, which hosted the 1992 Olympics. “Between 1981 and 1987 for example, the number of tourist arrivals to Barcelona was fairly stagnant at around 700,000. "Barcelona’s journey has been an extremely successful one with the city now boasting one of the highest [hotel] occupancy rates in Europe with approximately seven million visitors each year,” Al Thawadi told delegates at the Qatar Projects 2012 conference.
While Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 tournament has put the country on the radar of major international engineering firms, hoteliers and transport experts, Al Thawadi was keen to stress the economic benefits and job creation that will occur within the region - something particularly relevant in the wake of the unrest that has affected the Middle East in the past year.
In the same way South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup boosted its neighbours, Al Thawadi said Qatar’s staging of the event is a chance for the Arab world to present “a unified face to the world”. With hospitality chains eyeing Doha, FIFA last month reiterated that “alcoholic drinks are part of the World Cup” in the wake of a dispute with 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil over the availability of alcohol in stadiums. An alcohol ban was recently imposed on high-end Doha development The Pearl, hitting the takings of some restaurants.