Doha hotels rethink strategies after airport delay

Facility expected to be key business generator for hotels upon launch

Travel, Cop 18, Delay, Doha international airport, Doha national convention centre, New doha international airport

The delayed opening of the highly-anticipated New Doha International Airport (NDIA) in Qatar has forced some city hotels to rethink their business strategies.

Previously anticipated to open on December 12, 2012, the development has incurred a number of setbacks including the termination of a $245m fit-out contract this month. The airport, which will replace the existing Doha International Airport, is not expected to open to the general public until the second half of 2013, according to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

Gokul KC, general manager of Gokum Park Doha, a 72-room hotel located close to the airport, said the delay was “unfortunate”.

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“We were counting on the additional footfall to augment our current business – but things like this do happen,” he said.

“We will have to relook at the budget for next year, in addition to tapping on other market segments to compensate for the anticipated revenue,” added Gokul KC.

During the Hotelier Middle East Qatar GM Debate last March, Qatar Tourism Authority director of tourism Abdulla Malalla and hoteliers highlighted the launch of the airport, among other infrastructure projects, as a key business driver for Doha’s growing number of hotels.

“The delay of the new airport would not affect the business as long as more events will take place such as COP 18 (Doha Climate Change Conference) in November and December this year. If more worldwide events will come to Doha, that would help generate more business,” commented Millennium Hotel Doha general manager Giorgio Lanfranchi.

“Naturally, having a brand new airport would have more impact on Doha but that will come next year when all will be done and all projects planned will be allocated and finalised,” he said.

John Northen, multi-property general manager, Marriott International – Doha City Centre added: “If the new airport is delayed, I’m sure it will be worth the wait! The current airport does a great job already and I personally will be very happy to continue using this one for now”.

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