'Qatar can sustain hotel growth post 2022'
August 06 2016 08:29 PM

Qatar will not see an oversupply of hotels in the country and will still be able to maintain good occupancy levels even after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a hotel executive has said.
“The country needs those facilities,” said Shangri-La Hotel Doha general manager Alex Willats, who pointed out that “there needs to be a capacity available” when hosting an event like the World Cup.
Citing Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) figures, DTZ, in its “Q1 2016 Qatar Market Report: Hospitality Market Overview,” said 56 hotels and 13 hotel apartment buildings are currently under construction and due to be released within the next five years, bringing the total number of rooms to 26,653.
“Of these, the QTA expects 20 hotels and hotel apartments to open in 2016. In addition, there are proposals for another 130 establishments,” the report further said.
Willats has lauded government’s foresight, saying “it’s not just about the World Cup” but further towards realising the Qatar National Vision 2030.
“And certainly the government has got that right – it’s not just about the World Cup but longevity…the plan to 2030 dovetails very much with the World Cup, but it’s not just about the World Cup.
“These kinds of facilities and the variety they’re putting into place will, in itself, position to allow a sustainable growth of hotels to maintain a good occupancy level even post 2022,” Willats told Gulf Times.
Aside from hotels, Willats also lauded the government for building world-class facilities like the Hamad International Airport (HIA), which would attract more tourism-related traffic into the country, and boost Qatar’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry.
“The infrastructure that was put in place has extremely good urban planning in mind. Of course, with the World Cup coming in 2022, and the Qatar National Vision 2030, I think the planning that is going into place will lift the profile of Qatar as a MICE destination.
“And I think the great thing is that starting in some of these early stages, they can look at probably more opportunities than some of the other countries in this part of the region and I think that is what people are looking for in a MICE destination,” he said.
Citing MICE destinations like Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai, Willats said companies, event planners, and organisers are also looking for other countries like Qatar as an alternative to other established venues.
“People are looking for something a bit different, a destination that’s a little bit raw and sometimes a little bit in its infancy, and quite often, one that offers a bit more flexibility and I think that’s also an area that Doha, and hotels like us and the other properties, can offer probably more flexibility in terms of rates, and therefore it makes it a much more attractive destination than some of those other traditional locations that have perhaps priced themselves out of the market a little bit,” he said.
Willats added: “We’re all sitting in global economic fund for a while; companies’ budgets are tight but at the same time they still realise and value that they need to have these exhibitions and conferences. And I think Qatar has an opportunity to attract those kinds of pieces of business and for a much more cost-effective option.”

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