x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi bucks regional tourism dip

The number of visitors across the region dropped last month, in part because of the timing of Ramadan. But Abu Dhabi bucked the trend.

The timing of Ramadan meant that tourism demand dropped across the region last month, while Abu Dhabi was the only destination to buck the trend, hotel data shows.

Combined with the Arab Spring, occupancy levels fell 7.2 per cent to 45.4 per cent in the Middle East last month, compared with August last year, according to STR Global, a research firm based in London.

Occupancy of hotels in Abu Dhabi, however, increased 3.9 per cent to 49.8 per cent last month.

Average room rates in the capital fell to US$109.54 (Dh402) last month, a 16.7 per cent decline compared with August last year.

"The holy month of Ramadan fell together with the month of August this year, reducing demand across the region", said Elizabeth Randall, the managing director of STR Global. "This, in addition to the consequences following the Arab Spring, impacted this month's results. Average room rates grew across the regions with the only reported declines across northern Africa".

In the Middle East, average rates last month rose 16 per cent on August last year to $199.22, leading to a 7.6 per cent growth in revenue per available room, a key industry indicator. But in North Africa, there were double-digit declines across all the indicators.

In Cairo, occupancy levels fell 50.9 per cent to 21.8 per cent, while in Ammanthere was a 37.7 per cent drop to 28.2 per cent.

There was a 34.7 per cent decline in revenue per available room in Beirut to $76.87 as tourism to Lebanon has been negatively affected by the unrest in Syria.

rbundhun@thenational.ae