Qatar's hotel scene to boom as millions of fans and tourists arrive

18 October 2022 3 min. read

Qatar’s hotel scene is set for a boom in the coming years, according to new research by Knight Frank, on the back of a tourism-focused vision by the government and major sporting events such as the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023.

At the start of the year, Qatar had around 30,000 keys, and by the time the World Cup commences next month (which is expected to draw 1.5 million visitors), that number will have risen with another 3,800 keys.

Beyond the world’s greatest and largest sporting event, Qatar’s hotel sector is not expected to see its its growth slow. In the years up to 2030, the country’s hotel industry is forecasted to grow by 12% to a total value of $55 billion per annum – then contributing 12% of Qatar’s gross domestic product.

Qatars current and future hotel room supply breakdown

“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. Indeed, with nearly 27,000 hotel keys expected to be delivered in the next 3 years, there will be a phenomenal change in Qatar’s hotel offering by the end of 2025,” said Faisal Durrani, Head of Research at Knight Frank in the Middle East.

“The near doubling in capacity to over 56,000 rooms will be in a post-World Cup environment and comes as the country prepares for an anticipated visitor influx.”

International tourism

By 2030, tourist arrivals are forecast to hit 7 million, with the majority of tourists considering Qatar a luxury destination. According to Knight Frank’s analysis, 69% of Qatar’s hotel rooms today are classed as either 4 or 5 stars, a mix which is not expected to change much in the coming years.

“Like other markets in the region, the focus is very much on the higher end of the price spectrum,” said Turab Saleem, Head of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure at Knight Frank in the Middle East.

Qatar is also building a thriving attractions landscape that will draw tourists, such as the new Winter Wonderland, and Aquatar on Qetaifan Island (which promises to deliver the world’s tallest waterslide).

Supply breakdown by operator classification

The leading operators

Knight Frank’s research has also revealed the shifting fortunes of the emirate’s top hotel operators.

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% on today. Accor and Hilton Hotels & Resorts will round off the top three, together controlling nearly 19,000 rooms, or a third of total hotel keys.”

IHG, the current number two in the market, is forecast to slip down to fourth place, with about 3,500 rooms.

Qatars top 6 hotel operators

Across the board, international operators will claim a larger market share by 2025. Adam Stewart, Head of Qatar at Knight Frank, said: “By the end of 2025, international hoteliers will control 62% of Qatar’s hotel keys, up from 59% today. In reality this could be even higher as 17% of rooms are yet to be allocated to an operator.”

Earlier this year, Big Four firm PwC released a research uncovering five trends that are driving growth in Qatar’s real estate sector.