While January and February forecasts may be lower for the hospitality industry in Qatar and the Mena region amid the onslaught of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, “the rest of the year looks very promising” and the demand is expected “to pick up very strongly leading up to the FIFA 2022 World Cup”, a senior hotelier has said.
Aurelio Giraudo, cluster general manager at Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb & La Cigale Hotel managed by Accor, told Gulf Times that he sees 2022 to be a remarkable year for Qatar, citing that 1.2mn visitors are likely to travel to the country for the showpiece event.
“Before that there are lots of other events planned as well, which in return will generate demand for the hospitality industry and boost tourism i.e. Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition, Doha Book Fair, Katara Arabian Horse Festival, Dimdex, Milipol, Fencing Grand Prix, Tennis and Table Tennis Tournaments, Al Shaqab, MotoGP, Diamond League, World Padel Tour, Qatar Masters – Golf and other events,” noted Giraudo, who was earlier with The Regency Hotel in Kuwait as general manager and director of Business Development.
It is learnt that several other events are lined up in the coming months before the much-anticipated sports event, taking place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
According to Giraudo, Doha is expected to be full during the FIFA World Cup 2022, and football fans will have an exceptional variety of accommodation options to choose from.
Besides hotels, he added that visitors can choose accommodation on cruise liners, hotel apartments, fan villages with an Arabian desert vibe, as well as stays in private homes. “16 floating hotels will also be built, providing around 1,600 rooms in total.”
“Tourism sector will be booming during the World Cup period and fans can enjoy from sampling the local cuisine to exploring the iconic museums, exhilarating dune bashing and relaxing in the spa or at the beach, there is something for everyone. Exciting times ahead,” Giraudo said.
About the impact of a Covid-19 third wave on the overall hospitality industry, he said hotels in Qatar and the region have revised revenue forecasts, keeping in view the current wave, and have started working on cost controlling measures.
“Though it was in the back of our mind that Covid-19 is still around, however, we had not forecasted such a strong third wave. The Qatar government has strongly supported the hospitality industry in the previous years by organising sports tournaments in either biosecure or semi bubble environment and we foresee same trends to continue. With vaccine and booster shots, we are more prepared to handle the third wave,” Giraudo stressed.
Apart from the usual mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing, he said that brands and hotels have worked hard to upgrade their protocols (and will continue to do so) in this pandemic to ensure the safety of guests.
Giraudo underlined the importance of safety measures such as communicating with guests, implementation of digital check-in, using QR codes for food and spa menus, food delivery sales, packaged catering, plated buffets, and the introduction of robot waiter. For colleagues, he said the company is flexible with work from home culture for the administrative team.
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