World Cup Tourists Offered Tents Amid Accommodation Squeeze

Some fans traveling to Doha for this year’s football world cup have the option to stay in tents in the Qatari desert, as an accommodation squeeze forces planners to come up with creative solutions.

The 1,000 tents on offer will comprise a small portion of the more than 100,000 rooms being made available to fans during the tournament, said Omar Al Jaber, who’s in charge of accommodation at the Qatari organization overseeing planning for the month-long event.

The tents will complement clusters of pre-fabricated cabins and tent-like structures — so-called “fan villages” — also on the outskirts of Doha. These are also being billed as affordable options and some are currently advertised at a little more than $200 per night.

Campers renting the most basic tents will have access to running water and power generators but no air conditioning, Al Jaber said. The weather will be relatively mild when the tournament kicks off in November, with average high temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius).

About 20% of the structures will be luxury tents with more amenities, targeted at fans who want the desert experience rather than simply a place to sleep on a budget.

Providing sufficient accommodation for visiting fans, teams and tournament staff remains a key challenge for Qatar. More than a million fans are expected to descend upon the tiny Gulf state during the event.

Thousands of rooms in many luxury hotels have been set aside for FIFA officials and players. To meet the expected demand, Qatar has also leased two luxury cruise liners, encouraged homeowners to rent their properties to visitors, and set up a regional system of shuttle flights so fans can stay in other countries.

Al Jaber said further accommodation options will become available as the ticketing process proceeds and as more inventory becomes available, including rooms in buildings set to be completed over the next few months.

The surge in demand has caused rents to spike in spite of years of malaise in the property market. Tenants in some hotel residences have been told they’ll need to move out ahead of the tournament, while other renters are relocating because of exorbitant increases in monthly rent. –Bloomberg