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 World Cup, its chairman and chief executive Sebastien Bazin said.
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.
My Bazin said “65,000 rooms is like opening 600 hotels, so we committed to hire enough people to serve it”, and a drive is under way 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 about 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,” Mr Al Jaber said.
Qatar hopes to attract 1.2 million visitors, which is nearly half of its population, during the 28-day tournament in November and December.
However, the tiny Gulf Arab state has fewer than 30,000 hotel rooms, according to estimates by Qatar Tourism, and 80 per cent 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 prefabricated fan village cabins. Pre-booked accommodation is mandatory for ticketed fans who plan to stay overnight in Qatar during the World Cup, Mr Al Jaber said. Without accommodation, most fans will not 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, Mr Bazin said.
The hotel operator is shipping 500 containers filled with furnishings, from sofas to silverware, from China.
Accor will re-deploy its fleet of lorries, buses and cars from Makkah in neighbouring Saudi Arabia to overcome an expected shortage of available vehicles in Qatar during the tournament, Mr Bazin said. It has also sourced a local company to launder the 150 tonnes of dirty linen the operation is expected to generate each day.