With less than a month to go, the travel risk management expert shares guidelines for travel to Qatar during the World Cup
Priyanka Lakhani is the senior vice president, Commercial EMEA, for Collinson, a company providing ancillary travel services, including airport lounge access, security assistance and medical services. Here, she shares advice for travel agents on how to ensure their clients have a safe and pleasant trip when attending the FIFA World Cup.
According to FIFA, football fans who have already purchased 2.45 million tickets. Like any major sporting event, the FIFA World Cup will draw a diverse crowd, and this will be the first time the event has occurred in the MENA region. To ensure a smooth journey for your travel clients, it's critical to clearly outline the guidelines and ancillary services that attendees can take advantage of during the event. Here, based on publicly available data, are Collinson's recommendations:
For football enthusiasts travelling to Qatar, the Hayya card is a personalised document issued to every person attending any of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches. Both the Hayya card and applicable match ticket are required to access the stadium on match days. All travellers headed to Qatar from 1 November 2022 to 23 January 2023 need a Hayya card. No other standard of visit visa will be issued during this period; the Hayya card is considered the only entry permit. Visitors also need a passport which is valid up until 1 June 2023.
All travellers arriving in Qatar for the World Cup should check the country’s most recent Covid protocols 72 and 48 hours in advance of flying to check for changes. Currently, regulations state that visitors need to present a negative result within 48 hours of taking a PCR test or rapid antigen test.
As proof of vaccination/immune status, Qatar recognises certain apps used in other countries or regions. This includes the Al Hosn app, which is used in the UAE. Visitors from the European Union can use the European pass app, while UK visitors can use the NHS COVID Pass.
Football fans travelling from Europe can take direct flights to Doha with the country's national carrier Qatar Airways, as well as their own international airlines such as British Airways or Turkish Airlines etc.
Local airlines within the GCC are collaborating to reduce friction and increase capacity for tournament attendees. Middle Eastern airlines, including Flydubai, Saudia, Kuwait Airways and Oman Air, have announced special shuttle flights to Doha for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. These flights, which will only be available to FIFA ticket holders, will allow fans to travel to Qatar to watch a match and return the same day.
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With a lot of travel in a single day, you will want your clients to be as comfortable as possible. Check whether your clients' credit cards or membership programmes give them access to lounges in their designated terminals in advance. It's far better to Google this information before they arrive at the airport so they immediately know where to go.
Certain local airport lounges accept multiple memberships. For example, Priority Pass members flying from Dubai to Doha can relax between flights at the newly opened Sleep n Fly lounge at Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3, Concourse A, and at the Al Maha Lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport.
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When an event of this magnitude is held in a region for the first time, travel service providers can never be too prepared when developing a Travel Risk Management (TRM) programme. Collinson, in collaboration with Crisis24, the world’s largest integrated risk management provider, offers fully integrated, scalable and comprehensive travel risk services. With solutions such as remote site medical services, active traveller tracking and monitoring, and 24/7 security monitoring and incident response, providing travellers with continuous support throughout their journey.
For the first time, a Middle Eastern country will host the world’s most significant football competition, and this will bring more than one million fans to Qatar from all over the world. As a visitor, understanding the country’s cultural sensitivities and requirements is critical. Public displays of affection are not permitted and, although alcohol will be available for purchase for fans who wish to partake in designated areas, they should be aware that drinking alcohol outside of these areas is illegal.