Hundreds of hotel management graduates and trainees in Calcutta are boarding flights to Qatar for the upcoming Fifa World Cup.
In hotels, they will work in the kitchen, housekeeping and food and beverage departments and front desks. At the stadiums, they will be part of the culinary section or the service teams in hospitality boxes.
The Fifa World Cup, billed by many as the greatest sporting event on earth, will be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18. Qatar is the first West Asian country to host the World Cup. Over one million visitors are expected for the quadrennial spectacle, posing a logistical challenge.
Eight stadiums and several hotels are gearing up to host the tournament.
“The demand for people is much more than the supply,” said Sanjukta Bose, director of IIHM chain of hotel management institutes. The chain has already sent some 600 candidates to Qatar, of whom around 200 are from Kolkata.
“They will work at hotels and in stadiums. At the hotels, some of them will work in kitchens, some will serve as butlers and some others will be at the front desk. The work will be exhausting but the experience they earn will be invaluable. The pay is also better than the Indian average. Their accommodation and travel expenses are being taken care of,” she said.
The recruiters said both freshers and interns are being recruited. Freshers mean final-year students who are nearing completion or have completed the three-year course. Interns would mean second-year students. Almost all the assignments in Qatar are contractual in nature.
“While freshers are getting contracts of up to six months, interns are mostly getting a month’s contracts. The hotels are giving a longer contract and stadiums a short contract,” said Aditya Udani, director of Udaaan Management Academy, one of the agencies recruiting people from India for the World Cup.
Udani’s agency has been awarded the recruitment contract by a sub-vendor of the main recruiter for the organisers of the cup.
Till now, he has recruited around 400 people from Kolkata.
They are slated to fly out on November 10.
One of them is Tanya Chakrabarty, in the final year of her hotel management course from a private institute.
The Bhowanipore resident had interned in a resort in Mauritius. But she knows that the Fifa World Cup is a different ball game.
“As the date to board the flight nears, my excitement is on the rise,” said Chakrabarty, who is slated to work under a senior chef at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor City, 35km north of central Doha.
“I have served guests in a hotel. But a football stadium is going to have a different atmosphere. It is going to be chaotic,” said Chakrabarty.
Udani said recruiters were looking for three qualities in candidates — attitude, communication skills and adaptability.
The average pay for interns is around 1,000 QRT, which translates to around Rs 22,000 a month, said Udani.
For freshers, the pay is over 1,600 QRT (Rs 36,000 a month).
Institute of Advanced Management (IAM), another chain of hotel management institutes, has sent over 100 candidates to Doha. A few more would be leaving on October 31.
“The World Cup has come as a huge shot in the arm for the hospitality segment,” said Maitreyee Chaudhuri, the group director of the chain.
“The inherent sense of hospitality in Indians makes them ideal candidates,” she said. Saket Gupta, a student of the institute, will travel to Doha to work as an intern. He does not know yet if it will be in a stadium or a hotel. The 19-year-old Howrah resident is flying out on October 31.
“I had never imagined that my first foreign trip would be to a World Cup. I am not much of a football fan. But I am dying to have a sense of what being a part of such a huge event is like. My friends are pestering me for autographs of Neymar and Mbappe,” he said.