DOHA (Reuters) – Hotel operator Accor is recruiting 12,000 temporary overseas employees to operate 65,000 empty rooms in apartments and homes in Qatar as temporary fan housing for the 2022 football World Cup, its chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin told Reuters.
Qatar is working to avoid an accommodation shortage during the tournament and has hired Accor, Europe’s largest hotel operator, to manage the temporary operation.
“65,000 rooms is like opening 600 hotels, so we committed to hire enough people to serve it,” Bazin said, adding that a drive is underway in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and South America to recruit housekeepers, front-desk staff, logistics experts and others.
“All that is going to be dismantled at the end of December,” he said.
Qatar’s official World Cup accommodation website has received around 25,000 bookings so far, and will offer more than 100,000 rooms, Omar Al Jaber, executive director of accommodation for tournament organisers the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy told reporters on Tuesday.
“We will be under pressure until the first match has started. This is normal and we are ready,” Al Jaber said.
Qatar hopes to attract 1.2 million visitors, nearly half of its population, during the 28-day tournament in November and December.
But the tiny Gulf Arab state has fewer than 30,000 hotel rooms, according estimates by Qatar Tourism, and 80% of those rooms have been block booked by world football’s governing body FIFA, for official guests, World Cup organisers said.
Qatar is also offering 4,000 rooms on two cruise ships moored at Doha Port, 1,000 Bedouin-style desert tents and rooms in pre-fabricated fan village cabins.
Pre-booked accommodation is mandatory for ticketed fans who plan to stay overnight in Qatar during the World Cup, Al Jaber said. Without accommodation, most fans won’t be issued a mandatory fan ID, which doubles as a visa to Qatar.
To operate hotel-style rooms in homes and apartments will be a massive logistical challenge for Accor, Bazin said.
The hotel operator is shipping 500 containers from China, filled with furnishings, from sofas to silverware. Accor will re-deploy its fleet of trucks, busses and cars from Mecca in neighbouring Saudi Arabia to overcome an expected shortage of available vehicles in Qatar during the tournament, he said. It has also sourced a local company to launder the 150 tonnes of dirty linen the operation will generate each day.
(Reporting by Andrew Mills; Editing by Toby Davis)