World Cup fans shun Qatar over pricey hotels and LGBTQ, alcohol bans
Expensive accommodation and bans on alcohol and supporting LGBTQ rights are causing World Cup tourists to stay in the United Arab Emirates instead of Qatar.
Host nation Qatar has been heavily criticised over several issues, which is thought to have put many fans and tourists off visiting the country.
Qatar had been hoping to welcome huge numbers of visitors from around the world due to several favourable factors.
These include a better location for international flights than the previous three hosts, South Africa, Brazil, and Russia, and the fact that eight World Cup stadiums are close to its capital, Doha. Also, as a smaller country, Qatar can facilitate tourists more easily.
However, the country has reportedly failed to meet its visitor targets for the World Cup, with stadiums showing large patches of empty seats during games.
Three reasons have been given for the disappointing turnout:
- Expensive accommodation
- Strict laws and restrictions including an alcohol ban
- The banning of gestures in support of LGBTQ rights, including the “OneLove” armband that team captains had planned to wear. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison, and even the death penalty for Muslims.
Controversy has also arisen over mistreatment of foreign labourers brought in to build stadiums and other World Cup infrastructure.
These factors have caused many fans to fly to Dubai, where accommodation is cheaper and alcohol is legal and freely available.
They can also take advantage of the 10 low-cost flights per day from Dubai to Doha.
UAE’s Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh are also popular destinations for football fans who did not want to stay in Qatar.
According to the Associated Press, most fans chose other cities over Doha after accommodation prices in the Qatari capital surged a few months before the tournament.
AP said a last-minute alcohol ban in stadiums had also caused tourists to divert to other countries where they can drink in nightclubs, bars, and resorts while watching World Cup matches.