Air fare to destinations in the Middle East (ME) has increased because of the demand for travel by football enthusiasts for the Qatar World Cup scheduled to begin last week of November. The return fare to Doha is 46,000-85,000 while the tickets to Dubai are selling at 25,000-30,000. As hotel tariff is also high in Doha many people are going to stay in UAE and Saudi and travel to Qatar for the matches. These two countries are offering multiple entry visas for football fans arriving to watch the matches. The return fare from Chennai to Doha is in the range of 46,000-90,000, to Dubai it is 25,000-30,000, Abu Dhabi is 23,000-41,000, Sharjah is 23,000-27,000, Dammam is 26,000-29,000 for travel at the end of November. The FIFA World Cup begins on November 20.
Industry sources said people including groups who have booked for travel to ME during the World Cup are combining the trips – for football match in Qatar and sightseeing in UAE. They will land in the UAE or Saudi, stay there and then fly to Qatar for the matches. UAE and Saudi have also relaxed visa rules.
Basheer Ahmed of Chennai Metro Travels said that “It works out cheaper for a traveler from Chennai to stay in Dubai and fly to Qatar to watch the matches and return the same day because airfare and hotel rates in Doha are expensive. A traveler recently saved Rs 30,000 for a three day’s trip by deciding to stay in Dubai. A group saved close to 1lakh by not flying to Qatar directly.”
He also said most of the people watch only one or two matches at the maximum and prefer to travel around tourist spots in the Middle East.
Paul Perinbaraj, from Chennai, said “I am travelling with friends to watch Germany vs Japan match in Qatar. But I am planning to stay in Dubai and go because flight and accomodate cost came up to ₹2 lakh for Doha. I will be saving atleast ₹1 lakh.” There are also more flights from Chennai to Dubai and Abu Dhabi than to Doha. There are around 10 direct flights per day to the UAE while there are only three flights to Doha.Nishant Pitti, CEO & co-founder, EaseMyTrip said, “We are seeing an increase in advance bookings and searches to Qatar by 30% and 20%. We are expecting the bookings to go up exponentially with fans wanting to watch matches live. Due to this demand, there is a fare hike to Qatar. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup set to start on 20 November Qatar has relaxed the COVID restrictions making it ideal for people to travel. Besides the regular travellers who visit Qatar for holidays etc, FIFA” has surely added to the footfall.” Regular leisure travellers and families are inconvenienced as high demand has pushed up fare and hotel tariff in the ME.
Manu Sasidharan, head of hotels, Cleartrip, said, “Booking data shows the current trend of hotel bookings for the Middle East countries shows an average spike of eight times for the World Cup period.”