x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Summer quiet? Not for hotels

Hotels in the UAE are quietly confident that they are going to have a great summer, even though tourism figures traditionally drop off during this time of the year.

Atlantis Hotel is forecasting occupancy levels more than 90 per cent for this month and an occupancy percentage in the mid 80s for July and August. Above, visitors in the Lost Chambers in the Atlantis. Jeff Topping / The National
Atlantis Hotel is forecasting occupancy levels more than 90 per cent for this month and an occupancy percentage in the mid 80s for July and August. Above, visitors in the Lost Chambers in the Atlantis. Jeff Topping / The National

Hotels in the UAE are quietly confident that they are going to have a great summer, even though tourism figures traditionally drop off during this time of the year.

Properties across the country have launched attractive deals to lure holidaymakers, while growth in the number of tourists from emerging markets is also helping to boost business. On top of that the Arab Springcontinues to benefit the UAE, hoteliers say.

"So far it's a great summer," said Wael El Behi, the executive assistant manager at Dubai's Ramada Downtown hotel.

"The key factor is the price. Those who cannot afford to come to Dubai in the winter because it's expensive, they will come during the summer. So you will still see the crowds from the Russian market - even though it's hot - from the UK, from Central Europe."

The hotel, which is near the Burj Khalifa, is offering rates starting at Dh399 (US$108) during Ramadan, which coincides again this year with summer.

The average cost of a day for a tourist in Dubai, excluding accommodation, is $79, according to a survey by the Associated Press. This sum includes a taxi from the airport, breakfast, lunch, dinner, visits to a tall building and a cultural site. This means the city is cheaper than Paris, where the cost for similar activities is put at $164, New York at $134, and Tokyo at $132, the research revealed.

Other hoteliers are also optimistic for the summer period.

"It will be a stronger summer than last year from a rate and occupancy point of view," said Brett Armitage, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at Atlantis The Palm, the biggest hotel in Dubai, with more than 1,500 rooms. "The great value that we offer in the summer, that's really what drives it."

An increase in the number of flights coming into the country, with carriers such as Emirates Airline opening up new routes, were also helping, Mr Armitage said. "We've certainly seen an increase from China and India for the summer months."

Bookings from China are up by 23 per cent, while India is up 19 per cent, when looking at reservations between now and the end of August against the same period last year, Mr Armitage said.

"The good thing about both of those markets is that they are year-round markets, but moreover they are markets which both travel in the summer," he said.

Increased demand means that this year Atlantis has raised its promotional rates, charging Dh990 a night for its summer promotion compared with Dh895 last year.

Atlantis is forecasting occupancy levels more than 90 per cent for this month and an occupancy percentage in the mid 80s for July and August because of the impact of Ramadan, the slowest period of the year for hotel bookings.

"Outside of those Ramadan days, we'll be running in the mid to high 90s," Mr Armitage said.

Shopping is one of the main summer attractions for tourists, with events including Dubai Summer Surprises helping to draw visitors.

Frank Owens, the general manager of Dubai's Emirates Grand Hotel, said there was very strong demand from Saudi Arabia before Ramadan. There was also a good level of demand from Asian countries including South Korea, Japan and China during the summer months, he added.

The hotel is forecasting occupancy of 55 cent to 60 per cent for the Ramadan period, when GCC nationals tend to forgo travelling. Room rates at the hotel are up about 15 per cent this summer compared with last year, Mr Owens said.

There are mixed opinions on the impact that Europe's economic woes is having on summer tourism.

Europeans "are looking for promotions", said Mr Owens. "We have seen during the last two or three months that the euro zone [economic trouble] definitely affects their travelling."

Ashraf Helmy, the general manager and area business development manager at the Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah, said he had also noticed an impact.

"We have lots of markets that have been affected," said Mr Helmy. "The British market was affected dramatically, the Germans are a little bit affected."

But the Arab Spring effect was helping to compensate, as many tourists were avoiding other parts of the region, he said.

Altantis, meanwhile, reported an increase in bookings from a number of countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom and Germany.

Summer promotions are vital to attracting business to Abu Dhabi this year, as properties expect to feel the heat of an increase in the supply of hotel rooms in the capital.

"We've got six promotions going on at the moment and that's bringing people in," said Jasmine Arika, the director of marketing and communications at the Beach Rotana hotel in the capital.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

twitter: Follow and share our breaking business news. Follow us

iPad users can follow our twitterfeed via Flipboard - just search for Ind_Insights on the app.