The World Cup kicks off on 20 November, when Qatar will host Ecuador in the opening match. It will conclude on 18 December when the final will be played in the 80 000-seater Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup brings benefits
In the intervening weeks the world’s attention will be on Qatar, the smallest country by land area ever to host the event. Having faced much criticism ever since winning the bid, it is likely that Qatar would want to impress. Expect the spectacular.
But Qatar will not just be on every TV or mobile screen globally. More than 1 million tourists are expected to make the journey, providing a much-needed economic injection.
In fact, the Chief Operating Officer of Qatar Tourism, Berthold Trenkel, has made it clear that Qatar aims to wow visitors with far more than just football. Over the last few months, new beaches, theme parks, and water sports hotels have opened.
And 1 November will see the opening of the much-anticipated Lusail Winter Wonderland, an island full of tourist attractions that, according to its website, offer the ‘ultimate entertainment and lifestyle celebration’.
But are these expectations of higher tourist numbers realistic?
Economists have thought about this question for some time. When countries bid for mega-sport events like the FIFA World Cup, their politicians often make bold predictions about the likely tourism effects.
They tend to use these same numbers to convince their taxpayers to fork out the additional costs of new infrastructure. And it makes sense: an event that attracts so much global attention must surely increase its appeal, attracting new audiences and future visitors.