More than 100 times as many flight tickets from the UAE to Qatar have been booked during the FIFA World Cup than the equivalent period in the most recent “normal” year, new data published by travel data company FowardKeys shows.

The data revealed that there are already 103 times more tickets booked from the UAE to Qatar between November 14 and December 24, 2022 than there were in the same period in the last “normal” year, which, because of the now resolved diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Gulf states, was 2016.

The data also showed how the Emirates and other Gulf states will benefit from passengers travelling on to other destinations, with Dubai as the most popular onward destination from Qatar by far during the World Cup.

Flights to GCC countries overall have increased during the tournament, 16% ahead of a normal year for the competition as a whole, and 61% ahead for the initial stages, with Dubai the destination benefitting most from onward travel.

ForwardKeys said 65% of those going to Qatar during the World Cup period and then travelling on to another destination will be heading to Dubai.

This is followed by Abu Dhabi, which will benefit from 14% of onward passengers, Jeddah, 8%, Muscat, 6% and Madinah, 3%.

ForwardKeys said: “The UAE’s strong showing is explained by a shortage of accommodation in Qatar.  Many people are expected to stay in the UAE and fly over for the day, on match days. Currently, day trips account for 4% of all arrivals in Qatar during the World Cup, 85% of which originate in the UAE.”

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “As global events go, the FIFA World Cup is one of the most attractive drivers of travel there is, so much so, that other destinations in the Gulf will benefit, not just the host nation, Qatar.

“In tourism promotion terms, the World Cup will throw a media spotlight on Qatar and help it become a more established destination, and not just a major hub for intercontinental air traffic.”

Ponti said normally, just 3% of travel to Doha is destined to stay in the country; and 97% comprises onward connections.

“However, during the World Cup almost 27% has Qatar as the ultimate destination,” he added. “The UAE will also benefit substantially from the tournament because it has much more hotel accommodation than Qatar, and two global hub airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

Bookings have streaked ahead overall compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 for flights arriving in Qatar from the 31 countries in the World Cup.

As of September 29, Mexico had 79 times as many flight ticket bookings to Qatar for the World Cup period than 2019 volume, Argentina, 77, Spain, 53 and Japan 46.

For those travelling on to another country after Qatar, the most important origin is the USA, which is responsible for 26%, followed by Canada, with 10%, the UK, France, Mexico and Spain, each with 5%, the data concluded.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Daniel Luiz)