Sports TravelExpert advice on planning an enjoyable experience for corporates and travellers visiting Qatar during the mega sporting event.

What travellers need to know about the 2022 FIFA World Cup

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Keeping travellers abreast of the country’s stringent laws to securing accommodation will help ensure an enjoyable experience for travel clients.
Keeping travellers abreast of the country’s stringent laws to securing accommodation will help ensure an enjoyable experience for travel clients. Photo Credit: Khalifa International Stadium

As excitement bubbles up for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in November, Francis Chong, vice president of assistance at Collinson Asia Pacific, says that organisations and travel planners should start preparations to send their staff, clients, prospects or even customers to the mega sporting event.

With many corporate hospitality packages already sold out, and three million publicly available tickets on sale, planning a trip to this large-scale sports event is rife with many logistical challenges considering the number of attendees descending into Qatar soon.

Collinson Asia Pacific believes that early preparation is key to ensuring a smooth experience for any company sending its associates or travel agencies sending their clients to this year’s World Cup with the following suggestions.

1. Know the culture, the laws and the backup plan

Your guests should be educated on Qatar’s more conservative societal values from its culture to its laws. For example, while watching the football match, attendees may be inclined to consume a few alcoholic drinks. Though alcohol isn’t illegal in Qatar, there is zero tolerance for being drunk in public, and guests should be mindful of drinking one too many beers.

Many Middle Eastern states also monitor tourists’ social media activity and may prosecute travellers if they post anything offensive about the country, religion or culture. In the unfortunate circumstance that your guests get apprehended by the authorities, they should already be briefed beforehand on what to do from having a 24/7 emergency line to reach out for legal aid.

2. Stay alert to crime and unrest

Crime in Qatar is considered relatively low compared to industrialised nations, but petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching still occur. Additionally, with the influx of 1.5 million visitors arriving from all around the world, it could bring a number of visitors who aren’t so law abiding.

Travellers should practise the usual basics of not displaying expensive personal items and turning off their NFC tag reader on their phones to avoid any unwarranted digital transactions. Also, tourists should be mindful that as with many other World Cup tournaments held in previous years, the situation may get rowdy if tensions run high among rival football nations.

Tourists should also readily have a list of emergency contact numbers to call either for advice or to report a crime.

3. Secure transportation and accommodation

Being a small country, it takes only two hours to traverse from one end of Qatar to the other by car. With its limited land space, it will be difficult to accommodate the millions of visitors. It’s estimated there are only around 150,000 hotel rooms available in the whole country, with 20,000 rooms for teams, journalists and staff already reserved.

Visitors may have to look for accommodation in neighbouring countries such as the UAE or Bahrain. Though it’s a short flight away or five hours by car, commuting back and forth their accommodation and the event venue will be complex, and will require plans to be firmed up as soon as possible.

4. Stay cautious of viruses and diseases

Mass gatherings increase the risk of contracting medical issues such as Covid-19, E. coli, salmonella, norovirus, dengue and leishmaniasis. Travellers should be encouraged to bring their own supply of Covid-19 test kits and avoid eating raw food or tap water, as well as applying skin repellent to ward off the Aedes mosquito.

Having a list of healthcare facilities such as hospitals or private clinics on hand is advisable for travellers. Alternatively, organisations may also wish to consider sending along a dedicated team doctor. All travellers should also be covered under a comprehensive travel insurance to ensure medical assistance can be rendered 24/7.

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