DUBAI Qatar plans to use a cruise ship for accommodation when it hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022 but will need more short-term alternatives to avoid adding to an already oversupplied hotel market, analysts said on Monday.
Some 400,000 fans plus the 32 competing teams and a huge media following will descend on the tiny Gulf state in 12 years time, when it becomes the first Arab country to host the world's largest soccer competition.
"There are plans to double the supply of rooms in hotels and guest apartments by 2022 to cover the everyday requirements of an economy that is expected to continue growing strongly," the world's governing soccer body said in its official report on the evaluation of the Qatari bid.
Qatar proposes "more than 240 different properties" mostly in the four-star category but also several in the three and five-star category and a few two-star properties, it said.
Of this number, 100 are existing hotels, villages and compounds with more than 44,000 rooms, while a further 140 properties are expected to be built, including a cruise ship project in Al-Wakrah with 6,000 rooms, FIFA said.
Hotel occupancy rates in Qatar are currently fairly low, which is indicative of oversupply, analysts say.
"Qatar will have to grow its hotel supply but I would be cautious on how they will do this," said Jalil Mekouar, managing director, hotels, Middle East & Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle.
"There are already fears of oversupply of hotel rooms in Qatar and with the World Cup effect lasting two or three months only, it is important to consider what to do with this hotel supply when the event is over," he said.
Alternative solutions would be using hotel supply from neighbouring Gulf Arab countries such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates which are only one hour's flight away.
Temporary budget hotels that could be dismantled after the event could also be explored, he said.
Jones Lang LaSalle estimates Qatar's current room supply at 9,200 rooms and expects an aditional 2,000 rooms in 2011 and another 3,000 in 2012.
JP Grobbelaar, Colliers International director of research, estimates Qatar has around 10,000 rooms, a total which is set to rise to 17,000 by the end of 2011.
"In the World Cup in South Africa, a lot of people committed their homes to guest accommodation of they leased their homes out for the duration of the World Cup," Grobbelaar said. "But this is unlikely to happen in Qatar and if it does, it won't be on the same scale."
(Editing by David Holmes)