x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Abu Dhabi and Dubai hotels set for Eid and conference bonanza

Thanks to big conferences and Eid, occupancy rates in Dubai hotels should be around 90 per cent this month with those in Abu Dhabi around 80 per cent.

The Radisson Blu Yas Island will be at almost full occupancy during Eid. Delores Johnson / The National
The Radisson Blu Yas Island will be at almost full occupancy during Eid. Delores Johnson / The National
Business is picking up at hotels and stores as Eid Al Adha celebrations and major conferences lift visitor numbers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi this month.

That kick-starts a festive season that spills into the first quarter of next year.

Philipp Economou, the general manager of the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, said the last quarter of this year could have a major impact on hotel revenues for the whole year, "while clearly setting the tone for 2014".

The UAE has declared a week-long Eid holiday, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar have announced a 12-day break.

On the conference front, Dubai has been bracing for thousands of visitors for major exhibitions such as Gitex Technology Week (October 20 to 24) and the just-concluded Cityscape Global.

Other major events in Abu Dhabi for the rest of this year include the Thalassemia International Federation World Congress (October 20 to 23), the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (November 1 to 3) and the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (November 10 to 13).

Hotel occupancy rates will hover around 90 per cent this month in Dubai and around 80 per cent in Abu Dhabi, lifting the average daily room rate after a slow Ramadan season, according to Christopher Hewett,a senior consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting.

"We anticipate hotels [that are near to] shopping malls will achieve close to 100 per cent occupancy, especially with certain malls being open for 48 hours," Mr Hewett said. "Hotels in Dubai, especially properties [close] to the Dubai World Trade Centre, will benefit from this large influx of delegates and, as a result, will record strong occupancies and rates."

He said leisure Eid travellers "will likely be the key driver of demand" this month, and corporate travellers to the big conferences "will be a secondary demand generator".

Ramada Hotel, close to The Dubai Mall in the Downtown area, is expecting a near sell-out for the entire month, and is sold out for Eid week.

Sumair Tariq, the managing director of R Hotels which owns the hotel, said: "Gulf nationals patronise our hotels during Eid holidays purely due to school holidays, and account for 95 per cent of the guests during Eid.

"Given the nature of Gitex and Cityscape, corporate guests come from all parts of the world and account for 80 per cent of our guests [during the conferences]."

The leading source markets for the hotel during Eid include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, while corporate guests tend to come from Australia, the United States, Britain, India, France and Russia.

The Radisson Blu Hotel on Yas Island will be almost full during Eid, according to Mohammad Abdo, the director of sales at Rezidor Hotel Group.

"Yas Island is now perceived as a leisure destination and our hotels have sold several packages with Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld," he said.

Rezidor, which has five hotels in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi, expects 90 per cent to full occupancy for its Dubai properties this month, and in the high 80s for its Abu Dhabi properties. Both figures are an increase of 10 per cent on the same period last year.

Average room rates across the group will range from Dh1,100 a night for the four-star properties to Dh1,500 a night for five-star and residence accommodation, according to Mr Abdo. The average length of stay is four nights.

The UAE has always been a draw for the Gulf tourism market during the major holidays.

"The upcoming Eid Al Adha will be no exception, with greater numbers flocking to the hotels and residences with their families," Mr Abdo said. "Because of the unrest in several other key destinations, we are seeing increased demand from Turkey and Jordan. As a result, we will see a 30 per cent increase in revenue during this period."

Given the high hotel occupancy rates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, retailers are upbeat about the last quarter, especially after a sluggish September.

The retail market will get a boost during Eid, with malls open until 3am every day from Thursday until next weekend, and 48-hour round-the-clock-shopping tomorrow and Tuesday.

Nassim Nasr, the general manager of the Dubai office of The Integer Group, a US-based retail marketing agency, said: "All retailers are waiting for the end of the year to try and make up for whatever losses they have had, if they have had losses."

Indeed, the cash registers could keep ringing for months.

Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics, said: "Eid is fairly important because a lot of tourists come in, especially with the extended hours that we are going to see in the malls.

"There are a lot of gifting seasons like Diwali, Eid, Christmas ... [and] from a product point of view, we get a lot of product launches."

Mr Panjabi is expecting launches of the iPhone 5s and 5c next month in Dubai.