Along with the various government initiatives, hoteliers, travel agents and industry stakeholders are also seeking to capitalise on what international competition will bring, and are planning to adapt to catch the eye of sports aficionados.

"Travelling football fans are a distinct sub-segment of leisure-based tourism with [a] sport orientation," underscored Patnaik, "Hotels can always arrange and manage to [cash in] by offering a few extra perks like customised tour packages, customised mobile apps for live updates of match summaries and venues, big screen display of matches [as well as] hassle free visa process and assistance."

Nilam Zainulabdeen, front office manager, K108 Hotel, explained that in order to stand out amongst the competition, the property will reduce room rates and offer special packages during the event.

Moreover, to ensure it maintains its high standards of services, the hotel plans to embark on a recruitment drive and provide opportunities for international volunteers.

In addition to underlining the role of Qatari hospitality, Moallem added that all its outlets will provide shuttle services to the stadiums, and for those without tickets, convert its 1,500m2 function spaces to areas for football fans to come together and support their teams with the screening and playback of matches.

Meanwhile, Patnaik elaborated that hotels have a duty to adjust to the basic common needs of supporters.

Along with providing comfortable and secure accommodation, properties can make changes to food menus, facilitate communication with guests through multilingual staff as well as offering personalised travel services to maximise safety.

Richa depicted that the potential benefits are not only to be gained during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but as part of a threestage process, before, during and after the tournament.

Currently within the pre-event phase, Richa explained that international tourists are becoming curious about Qatar, and therefore factoring in stopover journeys in their trips.

LONG-LASTING LEGACY

This phase is just the beginning, the peak is yet to come.

"It is clear that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is part of the journey for Qatar, not the destination," summarised Banouna.

"[It] will be a milestone for Qatar, but more importantly, it will help to put Qatar on the world stage and highlight its great potential as a destination."

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the dedicated dedicated body for all facets of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has outlined plans to transform the stadiums and surrounding precincts into vibrant community hubs.

Moreover, to ensure Qatar ends up with arenas fit for purpose beyond 2022, the grandstands have been designed to be modular, with demountable top tiers.

These world-class, modern sports grounds will, according to Richa, automatically become tourist attractions in themselves.

Meanwhile, Nair relayed her confidence in the never ending endeavours of the QTA, "[...] There are several plans, projects and programmes in place in line with the QNTSS 2030 to continue to increase tourism to the country even after the 2022 FIFA World Cup."

Hoteliers across the board are full of hope about the coming years and aftermath of the football tournament.

Moallem believes that the event will attract more young people to Qatar, and said it will be a new chapter for the country.

It is safe to say there is an air of excitement surrounding the future of the tourism industry, and therefore, the country as a whole.

Banouna described, "Being here in Qatar, it is amazing to see the pace and scale of infrastructure development that is set to remain to support the growth of the country well beyond 2022."

"The 2022 FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest achievements that Qatar has ever got, this world class event has certainly helped Qatar to reshape in every aspect," enthused Patnaik, adding that it will provide a much needed boost to the leisure segment.

Patnaik elaborated, that the renowned event has firmly placed Qatar on the global destination map, and this in itself is enough to sustain arrivals after the month-long tournament.

As Patnaik concluded, 2022 will not mark the end of an era, but rather the beginning of Qatar's golden age.