x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Bumper Eid for UAE hotels

Despite having no vacancies, many of the city's hotels are still receiving hundreds of enquiries by phone and in person from tourists.

DUBAI //Despite having no vacancies, many of the city's hotels are still receiving hundreds of enquiries by phone and in person from tourists during the busy Eid holiday.

Philippe Bonnot, the general manager at Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel in Dubai, said his establishment had 100 per cent occupancy this week, an 11 per cent increase from the holiday last year.

Mr Bonnot said many guests were from within the GCC, with those from Saudi Arabia making up more than 80 per cent of the hotel's clientele.

Budget hotels such as the Holiday Inn in Deira are also reporting 100 per cent occupancy since the start of Eid.

Jatin Singh, the front office manager for the hotel, said most of its guests had travelled from Saudi Arabia, while the second-highest number of guests were from Iran, followed by China.

"We are fully booked, as are most Dubai hotels right now," Mr Singh said. "However, we still receive around 15 walk-ins a day in addition to numerous telephone enquiries. Hotel guests are diverse but are predominantly from the GCC."

Francois Galoisy, general manager of Radisson hotels, agreed that the festival drew strong demand for rooms this year.

"In fact this is for us the best Eid in three years, with full capacity reached at our hotel," he said. "The whole city is full."

Mr Bonnot said he expected guests of Ibn Battuta Gate would spend substantial amounts of money at the hotel's outlets.

The Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh reported this month that Saudis were expected to spend almost Dh60 million while on holiday in Dubai this Eid. Many Saudis opt to spend time in Dubai to avoid the crush of Haj pilgrims at home.

Saif Al Mutiri, 27, a Saudi, arrived in Dubai two days ago and will be staying with friends. "I often come to Dubai during the Eid vacations," Mr Al Mutiri said. "My family went to visit relatives in Qatar but I decided to come here because I'm young and like to enjoy my time with the many friends I have across the emirates."

He said he would stay for another four days, avoiding the "overcrowded malls".

"The weather is very nice right now so I can go for a walk, go to the beach and basically enjoy the fresh air," Mr Al Mutiri said.

Hoteliers say other guests are arriving in the city for events such as the Dubai Air Show at Airport Expo (November 13 to 17) and the Dubai International Motor Show at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre (November 10 to 14).

"From the 13th of November onwards, which is the events season, our occupancy will fall to around 90 per cent," Mr Bonnot predicted.

Figures released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing show 6.64 million guests stayed at Dubai hotels between January and September this year, an increase of 11 per cent from the same period last year.

Revenues at hotels and hotel apartments increased by 19 per cent, to total more than Dh10.96 billion in the same period.