RIYADH: Qatar’s hospitality market could grow by 89 percent to over 56,000 hotel keys by 2025. The planned hotel room supply delivery is expected to cost around SR26.3 billion ($7 billion), according to global real estate consultant Knight Frank.
That is not all. Tourism is expected to contribute 12 percent of Qatar’s global domestic product, or $55 billion, and the country hopes to receive close to 7 million tourists by 2030, according to Adam Stewart, head of Qatar for the consultancy firm.
“While there is palpable excitement in Doha as the FIFA World Cup draws near, for the country’s hospitality sector, the best is yet to come,” said Faisal Durrani, Knight Frank’s head of Middle East Research, in its latest report.
With nearly 27,000 hotel keys waiting to be delivered in the next three years, Qatar’s hotel offering will undergo a huge transformation by 2025, Durrani added.
He said that following the World Cup, Qatar expects to see an influx of visitors once the excitement of the tournament subsides. This wave will lead to nearly double the capacity to over 56,000 rooms.
“Officially, around 30,000 keys had been delivered by the end of 2021, and we estimate that another 3,800 keys will have been delivered by the time the World Cup commences,” Stewart said.
Knight Frank’s research stated that tourist arrivals are slowly recovering as travel restrictions linked to COVID are being relaxed by the authorities, and visits from Gulf Cooperation Council states are already exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
However, visitors from India, which historically has been the largest source of inbound arrivals, are about a third lower than last year.
Stewart said Qatar would temporarily expand its hotel capacity by adding 3,900 cabins to two luxury cruise ships moored off its coast, with another on the way. Additionally, Stewart said cabin-style rooms are being quickly constructed across seven fan villages to accommodate 1 million World Cup fans.
Knight Frank’s research also indicated a shift in the top hotel operators in Qatar by 2025, with InterContinental Hotels Group falling out of the top three.
Durrani explained: “The Marriott Group will continue to fortify its position as Qatar’s leading hotel operator, with about 8,800 rooms under management by 2025, up 152 percent from today.”
Accor and Hilton Hotels & Resorts round out the top three, together controlling nearly 19,000 rooms, or about a third of total hotel keys.
However, he added that there would be a significant change as IHG would slide into fourth place from second place, with around 3,500 rooms.
Moreover, Knight Frank’s analysis showed international hoteliers will control 62 percent of Qatar’s hotel keys, up from 59 percent today, Stewart said.
“In reality, this could be even higher as 17 percent of rooms are yet to be allocated to an operator,” Stewart added.
Ultimate in luxury
Turab Saleem, Knight Frank’s head of hospitality, tourism and leisure, said that prices in the region are very much focused on the upper end of the market.
“Just 14 percent of the expected hotel keys are in the three-star and lower category; however, this is the segment that could present the greatest opportunity to transform Qatar’s appeal to a wider audience, particularly in the wake of the World Cup, which will put the country in the global spotlight,” Saleem said.
According to Knight Frank’s analysis, 76 percent of the planned rooms would be four- or five-star accommodations. Today, 69 percent of Qatar’s hotel rooms fall into this category.
Therefore, operators will need to actively target tourists seeking affordable, budget holidays by offering all-inclusive packages that are already popular in markets such as Spain, Greece, Turkey, and the Caribbean.