Having been booked to capacity, all 90 hotels in the Kingdom have begun the countdown, waiting with bated breath for the Formula One Grand Prix which is a little more than two months away.
The travel and tourism sector is agog to host thousands of visitors and are making all arrangements to ensure their comfort at reasonable rates.
And if the rush of visitors, participants and spectators exceeds the estimates of the Government and the industry, four new hotels , facilities in neighbouring countries as well as Government accommodations will do their bit to cope with the rush.
"We have confirmed with all 90 hotels, including one five-star one, and they are fully booked for mid-March to April," the Assistant Undersecretary of Tourism Affairs, Mubarak Saad Al Atwi, told the Tribune yesterday.
The Grand Prix is scheduled for April 4-6.
"The Kingdom is ready to accommodate nearly 20,000 visitors, at all tourism facilities under the Tourism Affairs of the Ministry of Information and other apartments under the Ministry of Municipalities and Agricultural Affairs," Al Atwi said.
"Each of the 90 hotels is accommodating visitors who will attend the Formula One activities. The Formula One management has been coordinating with Tourism Affairs to accommodate their nearly 3,500-member technical and support team," Al Atwi said.
He said that facilities under Tourism Affairs alone could accommodate about 13,000 people, while another 5,000 to 6,000 people can be put up at facilities under the municipalities.
"If the rush exceeds our expectations, then we will take help from neighbouring countries. We have cooperation agreements with neighbours on accommodating some visitors. We have also directed the travel agencies and tourism operators to take all steps to bring these visitors for the Formula One races," he said.
"Two new four-star hotels - Novotel Al Dana Resort and Moven Pick - are ready for opening and can take in some of the visitors. Another two four-star hotels - Majaaz Hotel in the Seef district and one near Al Hadi Centre - are under construction and expected to be ready in two to three months," he said.
"We have held meetings with general managers of various hotels in order to ensure the best facilities and arrangements for the visitors and Formula One teams.
All one- to five-star hotels have fixed reasonable rates in order to attract tourists and Formula One spectators from across the world.
Al Atwi said that Gulf Air would start frequent flights during this time.
"The Tourism Affairs is ready to host the global sports event - the first time in the region - and the Kingdom is ready to utilise all its resources to make the event a great success," Al Atwi said.
"We are also ready to co-operate with various sectors and Government organisations to provide required arrangements to help attract the Formula One management team to organise future events here which in turn will contribute to the healthy growth of the tourism industry of the Kingdom," Al Atwi said.