Investments worth up to $45bn are projected for Qatar's tourism-related projects up to 2030, according to a senior official.
"There is a projected investment of $11.5bn in the tourism sector alone up to 2030," said Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) chairman Issa bin Mohamed al-Mohannadi in remarks to Oxford Business Group.
He said, "We are introducing the National Tourism Strategy 2030 to continue to develop Qatar as a destination while strengthening the tourism industry, which will have many socio-economic benefits on a national scale in addition to helping prepare for hosting the world cup."
Gearing up for FIFA 2022 means, "Qatar will have to build more rooms, but we have to create a destination at the same time. We are projecting the organic growth in the sector from visitor numbers and planning the amount of rooms based on forecast demand.
"By doing so, we are giving the local market and industry priority and we will bridge any gaps regarding FIFA requirements. We are exploring options for temporary accommodation, such as cruise ships or floating hotels to ensure that there is an optimal balance between supply and demand for accommodation following the world cup."
The growth in the number of visitors a year in Qatar has been one of the highest and the fastest in the region, al-Mohannadi said.
"We are averaging an increase of 11% to 13% in the number of visitors every year. The world average is 3% to 4% and we are achieving four times that. In line with FIFA's requirements, we anticipate having 50,000 to 60,000 rooms. However, we are developing the local industry in line with demand. We have to ensure we do not impact the private sector or local investors, so we will develop based on an organic demand in the market."
Currently, Qatar has 14,000 rooms with another 5,000 expected to come to the market in the next four years. "This will bring the total to 19,000 and based on demand we will add an additional 11,000 to bring the total to 30,000," he said.
"We will cover the remainder for FIFA requirements through alternative options, such as cruise ships," al-Mohannadi said.
As the regulator, QTA is encouraging and educating the private sector on where best to invest, in line with the objectives of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, which considers a larger role for the private sector in developing the industry.
For example, in the hospitality sector, sporting events typically do not cater to guests who use four and five star hotels, so the medium to lower-end segment is where the authority is encouraging private sector investment, al-Mohannadi said.
"However, as an authority we are not directly investing and can only advise investors on the statistical performance of segments, while offering recommendations.
"It is important to note that the investment in the one to three-star segments is not just for the world cup but is also in line with our new strategy to diversify our targeted tourism market toward more budget-conscious regional visitors. To encourage greater private sector involvement, favorable investment laws have been enacted, including laws that allow 100% foreign ownership in most tourism-related projects," al-Mohannadi said.