Hotels in Jeddah were the top performers across the Arabian Gulf in July as Saudi tourists opted for “staycations” and Dubai and Abu Dhabi suffered a dip in occupancy because of the timing of Ramadan.
A rise in the number of religious travellers helped occupancy at four and five-star chain hotels in Jeddah to reach 83.9 per cent occupancy, up by 3.1 percentage points compared with same month last year, according to TRI Hospitality Consulting.
Meanwhile, occupancy levels in Dubai fell 11 percentage points to 70 per cent in July and by 4.5 percentage points to 57 per cent in Abu Dhabi on July last year.
“The Jeddah market has demonstrated consistently strong performance, particularly in the last few years since Ramadan has been moving into the summer months, effectively negating the seasonality of demand in this market,” said Peter Goddard, the managing director of TRI in Dubai.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi highlights the effect of the culmination of the low seasons as we saw Ramadan, which is a traditional low-demand period, moving into the peak summer period last month.”
Saudi tourists were discouraged by their government this summer from travelling to some countries in the Middle East, such as Lebanon, because of civil and political unrest.
Abu Dhabi is a hotel market in flux, as the huge supply of properties built in recent years now outstrips the growing number of visitors.
Guest numbers to the capital have grown at a rapid rate, with 980,000 checking into hotels in the first five months of this year, double-digit growth on the same period last year.
But supply is still increasing as about 6,700 additional rooms are expected to enter the market by the end of 2014, growing to about 21,400 rooms, an annual rate of 13.3 per cent.
“Abu Dhabi is likely to face continued pressure from increased competition, especially when additional hotels including the Ritz-Carlton enter the market at the end of 2012 and early 2013,” said Mr Goddard.
But hoteliers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi also reported a rebound in occupancy over the Eid Al-Fitr period, driven by an influx of Saudi visitors.
Getaway hotels, such as Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara were fully booked and the Tilal Liwa Hotel reported it was booked at more than 85 per cent occupancy.
Rotana, which operates 30 properties in the UAE, said its hotels next to shopping centres in Dubai were 100 per cent occupied for Eid.
Intercontinental Hotels Group said its properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi we were at about 63 per cent occupancy in July and about 80 per cent in Jeddah.