According to an organizers’ estimate that Reuters was able to access, Qatar only attracted slightly more than 765,000 tourists during the first two weeks of the World Cup, falling short of the nation’s projected 1.2 million visitors for the entire month-long event.
With only eight teams still in Doha and eight games remaining out of the 64 in the tournament that started on November 20, a significant increase in visitors at this point seems improbable.
The busy group stage, which saw 32 teams play four matches each day, was when organizers had previously predicted that the number of foreign visitors would be at their highest from Nov. 24-28.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which oversees the event, released a report on December 7 stating that 765,859 foreign guests arrived for the first 17 days of the World Cup, more than half of whom have since left.
The report registered 1.33 million match ticketholders and 3.09 million tickets sold across the eight stadiums in Qatar for the tournament that ends on Dec. 18.
A Qatari official, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the figures. The SC did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The first Middle Eastern tournament to be held in Qatar is regarded as one of the most expensive in terms of travel, lodging, and alcohol, the sale of which is prohibited.
The World Cup will be held in Qatar, the smallest country by population and area to host the event, and fewer foreign visitors than initially anticipated have prevented serious overcrowding or traffic problems.
The influx of visitors represents a 25% boost to the country’s resident population of 3 million, of which only about 10-12% are Qataris.
“With over a week of competition still to go, a wave of new visitors has started arriving from the nations that made it to the quarter finals,” the Qatari official told Reuters.
More visitors are expected to flock to Qatar for popular matches and after the country lifted entry restrictions for nationals and residents of fellow Gulf states.