Hospitality sector in Qatar

Corporate Immigration and Destination Services perspective

As Qatar enters a new phase of growth propelled by FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Qatar National Vision 2030, the country is busy expanding its infrastructure, spending billions of dollars on development projects. This endeavor made the country a major attraction to the international business community. This naturally puts a huge pressure and poses huge opportunities for the country’s hospitality sector, which is expected to cater to growing needs over the coming decade.

This article aims at exploring the expected growth in hospitality sector in Qatar, the opportunities and threats it presents from a Corporate Immigration and Destination Services point of view.

According to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), some 121 hotel projects are currently in the pipeline in the country, of which 46 are hotel apartments with a clear preference for 4 and 5 stars establishements. They will together add about 21,000 rooms when they are ready for operation. Hotel apartments will contribute more than 5,200 rooms to the total, catering mainly to visitors who will be here for a longer duration.
Data released by QTA suggests that the revenue of five-star hotels in the second quarter (April to June) 2013 surged to QAR 766.6 mn (USD 210.51 mn), up from QAR 615.77 mn in the same period of 2012. Hotels in the four-star category, on the other hand, reported revenues of QAR 185 mn (USD 50.8 mn) in Q2 this year, slightly more than the Q2 revenues of QAR 179.17 mn in 2012.
These higher revenues were a result of equally higher hotel occupancy ratios. The average occupancy rate was 58 percent in 2012, which improved considerably to 67 percent this year. This was despite the fact that hotel occupancy usually witnesses a slump in June, partly due to the hot weather. 

This trend is expected to continue backed by surging numbers of business visitors to the country. More than 61,000 visitors arrived in the country between April and June this year, of whom a vast majority (over 43,000) were business visitors. The inflow was over 57,300 in the second quarter of 2012 – with business visitors being the majority of approximately 41,000. More than 200,000 GCC tourists arrived last year, with the figure so far this year being 239,000, up 15 percent.
These figures and predictions paint a bloomy picture of Qatar’s hospitality sector, but how does it look when seen from a Corporate Immigration and Destination Services perspective?

With a global industry average of about 2.7 staff per room, we can conclude that the hospitality sector will attract over 55,000 new employees into Qatar in coming years, without taking into consideration the expected growth in supporting services.
This presents a number of challenges starting with corporate immigration planning and execution through to provision of adequate Destination Services.

It comes without saying that the current growth phase of Qatar’s economic sectors put huge pressure on the country’s government services, real estate, education and healthcare sectors. Although major plans are undergoing to respond to the pressure, it remains imperative that HR departments in hotels pre opening teams plan their Corporate Immigration and Destination Services carefully to ensure timely execution of the overall operational plan.  
Below are some of the major areas that require early attention and due diligence to avoid any costly delays

1. Block Visa Application: to work in Qatar, individuals needs work permits that can only be obtained by entities registered with the employment authorities to become worker’s sponsors during their employment in Qatar. Sponsorship and immigration are interlinked, so once a Qatari entity has been issued with an immigration card it may register with the Labour Department and submit block visa applications. A block visa application should state the gender, nationality and job title of the workers a Qatari entity wants to employ. Once the block visa allocation has been approved by the Labour Department, passport copies and appropriate education certificates should be submitted to the Immigration Department in order for each worker to be issued with their work permit before they can proceed for residency once that worker has been relocated to Qatar.
When dealing in huge numbers, this process can be time and effort consuming and is one that should be planned and handled in advance taking into consideration current and future requirements of the business.

2. Medical Certification: workers in the hospitality industry are required to conduct extra medical tests to obtain their work permit in Qatar. This is another process that can be time consuming and requires on the ground logistic support services that a new entity might not have access to.

3. Housing and accommodation: Qatar’s real estate sector has been racing the clock for the past 10 years trying to cater to ever-growing population. This pressure on residential units can lead to unpredicted costs and delays in mobilization. 

4. Driving License: A Qatari driving license is required for expats with resident permits, and can often be quickly transferred from a driving license from a list of approved countries for a small fee. For the most updated list, check with Traffic Department. However, if the employees’ nationality is not included in the list, then the employee requires to be part of a driving school for up to 6 weeks. Setting a test date could also take long but could be put on a fast track with the right planning.

These are only few points and obstacles that might face the growing hospitality sector in Qatar. All of these points can be easily managed and any inconvenience avoided through careful planning and the right selection of a knowledgeable Destination Services Provider. Contact us today to know more about our services and how we can help you see through the blind spots for an ultimate relocation experience.
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