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To those eternal sceptics who keep fulminating over

the weather situation in Qatar when it hosts the 2022


World Cup, we have just one word of advice: chill.
And we mean it both in the literal and gurative
sense especially because the Brazil 2014 Fan Zone
hosted by the Supreme Committee for Delivery &
Legacy (SC) at Katara Beach in Doha has exceeded all
expectations of attending fans.
Held in the open air in the hot and humid weather
prevailing in Qatar these days, the cooling technology
that would be used to keep hundreds of thousands of
World Cup spectators comfortable during the rst-
ever World Cup in the Middle East in eight years time
has made such an incredible impact that it has left no
room for complaints.
Ironically, the few murmurs of protest that were
heard had nothing to do with the heat in fact they
were about the lack of it as quite a few spectators
found themselves ill-equipped to deal with the dip in
temperature. A light sweater or jacket is in order.
Qatar won the 2022 bid with its promise of modern
temperature-controlled stadiums that would ensure
spectators and players are kept comfortable during
June and July during which the tournament will be
most likely held, unless
it is shifted to winter as
many have demanded.
But while the nal
word on the timing of
the event has not been
heard, critics can be
rest assured that the
cooling technology
Qatar is showcasing
is more than adequate
to counter the heat.
The fact that the
tournament is eight years away means there is
considerable time for the system to be perfected, if at
all there is any need for it.
Apart from stadiums, Fan Zones are an important
feature of global events that give spectators the chance
to mingle and socialize. Usually they are established
at public squares and other open spaces where huge
TV screens can be set up for thousands of supporters
to watch the matches. A dozen or so of such air-
cooled Fan Zones will ensure that there will be a party
atmosphere in Qatar during the tournament.
Meanwhile, at the Katara Fan Zone, the mood among
football fans has been decidedly upbeat as they have
been able to watch games, play beach soccer and
experience a whole range of other exciting activities.
The crowd inside the Fan Zone reached fever pitch
on Monday night with a huge crowd turning up to
watch Algeria crash out the competition after a 2-1
defeat against Germany.
Ammar and Rana, a young couple from Syria, said:
We cant believe it is outdoors because its so cool.
The organisers are very friendly and welcoming.
I cant believe its so cool inside the Fan Zone,
said another fan. Even with the open roof and
temperature outside above 30 degrees, I had to wear a
cardigan, she added.
Going by the fans views its about time the heated
debate is settled for good.
Getting hot under
the collar? Just chill
at the Fan Zone
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
editor@gulf-times.com
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Fax 44350474
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
Gulf Times
Thursday, July 3, 2014
COMMENT
30
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The cooling
technology
Qatar is
showcasing
is more than
adequate to
counter the
summer heat
Post Ramadan, the travel
exodus will begin in earnest
for the Eid al-Fitr holidays
and beyond
By Updesh Kapur
Doha
W
ith schools breaking up
for the summer vacation
in the same week we
entered the holy month
of Ramadan, its a time when many
need to start looking ahead for their
holiday planning.
Expatriates have begun sending
their families home for the long
summer break before joining them
later. But it is after Ramadan that the
real holiday mood gets into full swing
for many in the Gulf.
Post Ramadan, the travel exodus
will begin in earnest for the Eid al-Fitr
holidays and beyond.
The luxury of having a week or so
of of cial Eid Holidays followed by
annual leave is nice to have.
For those not yet decided where to
go on holiday, decisions have to be
taken fairly quickly.
Flights are lling up, hotels are
getting busy and prices are certainly
not coming down.
Choosing where to go, if no decision
has yet been taken, has to be done
fast to avoid last minute bookings.
And the whole process is stressful,
particularly if one is not buying the
holiday as a package, instead choosing
the core elements separately ights,
accommodation and car hire.
The notion that last-minute
bookings will always procure the best
prices is not the case, certainly not
during the approaching peak travel
season.
During of-season, there are
bargains galore for last-minute
holiday shoppers. But the next few
weeks will not reap the best deals.
Fromthe Gulf, the mass departures
to all corners of the world create more
demand than supply, hence resulting
in the basic economic principle of
customers having to pay more.
High-seasontravel duringholiday
periods helps squeeze the bankbalance.
Eid, NewYear, Christmas, Diwali and
school breaks the list is endless.
High volume travel during such
periods ensures number-crunching
pricing analysts in airline, hotel
and car rental revenue departments
churning out maximumprices to
maximise returns.
These high seasons generate
high revenues, high protability
and inevitably higher yields for the
products sold so there is no reason
why travel suppliers should reduce
prices during such peak periods.
Dont forget, and many do, that
booking the same holiday is not
exclusive to you or fellowcustomers
fromthe country you are making that
reservation.
Its a big competitive pool out there
as airlines, for example, open up the
same seat inventory to passengers
fromaround the world.
So to y fromany of the key Gulf
hubs Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi,
Muscat and Bahrain to anywhere
in the world, its a big bun ght from
feeding markets competing for the
same seats out of these hubs to global
destinations they serve.
Flying fromDoha to London, for
example, the choice is endless. Take
either the direct non-stop route with
the national airline Qatar Airways or
British Airways or via the Gulf hubs
and even mainland European bases
of other carriers such as KLM or
Lufthansa.
The route is operated with
more than 30 daily ights, either
direct non-stop or indirect with
connections.
The price invariably is cheaper
ying to the nal destination indirect
due largely to the inconvenience of
transiting through another airport,
which is why the connecting carriers
will lure passengers away fromnon-
stop airlines in the home market.
Like any business, airlines have two
clear objectives: to be commercially
viable and protable, hence they
carefully carve out pricing strategies
to maximise returns on the numerous
route combinations.
Walking into an airline reservation
of ce or travel agent or simply going
online to buy a ticket for same day
travel or a day or two in advance can
badly hit pockets.
The traveller needs to y so will be
prepared to pay the asking price no
matter what it is. It is here that the
airline can make a killing.
If you have the option of booking a
ight at an inconvenient travel time,
say middle of the night, as opposed to
a more reasonable daytime ight, do
so to secure a better fare.
Airlines assess travel patterns based
on previous 12-month historical data
which helps provide an insight into
price-setting for the next 12 months.
With higher revenue target levels
set by airline bosses year on year,
there has to be a balance to keep fares
reasonable, sustainable and, yet,
competitive so analysts have a tough
job indeed.
Hard to believe, but air fares in
realistic terms have actually gone
down over the past 30 years. The
cynics would disagree.
Arecent report showed air fares
have dropped 50%since the late 1970s
due to the advent of deregulation and
greater competition in the skies.
More competition, more airlines,
more choice and more options have
seen depressed air fares year on year.
Still hard to believe? The dreaded
additional air passenger taxes, fuel
surcharges, airport taxes, etc, have
actually been responsible for our
perception of air fares being too
high. Every airline is faced with
supplementing the actual ticket price
with these added charges something
unheard of 30 years ago.
There is more competition in the
skies today with a plethora of airlines
plying routes non-stop or via another
point, pitching for the same business.
Without competition and choice,
the business environment becomes
monopolistic, so fares invariably are
higher.
So what are the choices if you
havent already booked? What are the
trends and best options out there?
Europe once againremains a popular
hotspot. Whether its the northern
Scandic countries or Iberianpeninsular
tothe south; the forever loveable
tourist destinations of London, Paris,
or Istanbuls Euroasia charm, Europe
continues tobe a magnet for travellers
fromthe Gulf. The recent introduction
of a visa waiver programme bythe
BritishForeignandCommonwealth
Of ce for Qatari nationals has ledtoa
spike inbookings.
Eurostar trains linking Paris and
London have added adventure to a
two-city European tour; Barcelonas
charmon the Mediterranean and
its global marketing appeal thanks
to a star-lled soccer teamhave
lured tourists; while mainland cities
Vienna, Munich and Zurich and their
attractive surrounding environment
remain key draws.
Rail travel across Europe is
becoming increasingly popular for the
Gulf tourist, more as couples than as
families while Disneyland Paris has
become a good getaway as an add-on
break to the French capital.
Turkish Airlines introduction of
free day-time city tours in Istanbul
for passengers with over six-hour
transit times has been a big plus in
the carriers marketing initiatives
as it breaks the stranglehold of Gulf
carriers dominance of long-haul
travel.
Eastwards, Malaysia, Singapore
and Thailand remain rmfavourites
thanks to their multi-cultural, multi-
cuisine appeal, helped by more air
capacity ofering better access to
South East Asia.
Cruising is relatively newto the
regional market, but is picking up with
Scandinavia, Mediterranean and even
Alaska showing encouraging signs,
the latter helped by direct ights from
Dubai to Seattle.
The US has been a boon for Gulf
carriers with 2014 clearly the year
of growth to the US. American
expansion since the beginning of the
year has seen a 30%increase in the
number of weekly departures from
the Gulf to over 150 ights spread
across a multitude of US destinations
including NewYork, Washington,
Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Dallas,
Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San
Francisco and Seattle.
Earlier this year, US bound
passengers fromAbu Dhabi have been
able to avail of newimmigration,
customs and agriculture clearance
inspections prior to departure.
This pre-USentryclearance
formalityhas beena bigsellingpoint for
passengers travellingonAbuDhabi-
basedEtihadAirways enablingthemto
be treatedas domestic USpassengers
onarrival allowingfor faster processing
at their arrival airport andavoiding
unnecessaryqueues that we see sooften
enteringthe US.
NM Shaq, general manager of
Doha-based Regency Holidays, says
choices of where to travel are greater
than ever before, pointing out there is
still capacity out there which is being
snapped up quickly.
We are very fortunate to see a huge
variety of options across the travel
sphere and this is not just limited to
ights, he says.
Yes there are more ight options,
more hotels andgenerallya muchbigger
choice. We are ndingthe average
holidaybookingis for three weeks with
reservations duringthe peaksummer
andpost Ramadanperiodpickingupin
the last twoweeks.
London, Paris, Barcelona, Munich
andZurichcontinue toshine, but we
are alsoseeingthe USAa bigseller
thanks tomore Americandestinations
beingservedfromthe region. Hawaii
andOrlandoinparticular are seeing
signicant interest due tothe additional
citygateways beingintroducedbyGulf
carriers. The USimmigrationclearance
facilityinAbuDhabi has appealed
tomanytravellers keentoavoidlong
queues onarrival inAmerica.
And of course we are seeing a
substantial increase in people opting
for cruises as part of their holiday,
again largely due to more air capacity
being own to cruise centres.
The world as they say is your oyster
with a wide choice of options on the
table.
In this day and age, work pressures
and stresses can make it dif cult to
plan well ahead.
But try to as much as possible
to avert paying the price for a late
booking and secure the holiday of your
choice to suit the budget you set aside.
If notforthecurrenthighsummer
travel season,thinkaheadof thenextpeak.
Holiday planning: book
early to avoid high prices
New York remains a magnet for tourists from around the world.
French capital Paris continues to lure high number of visitors from the Gulf.
Turkish Airlines introduction of free day-time city tours in Istanbul for passengers
with over six-hour transit times has been a big plus in the carriers marketing
initiatives.