x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Business is good for capital's hotels

Hotels in Abu Dhabi say their occupancy rates have not been affected much by the global financial crisis.

ABU DHABI // Hoteliers in the capital say their rooms are still booked despite the global financial crisis, during which occupancy has fallen as much as 25 per cent in Dubai. Reema Baroudi, spokesman for the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, said the hotel had met its business targets and had not noticed any significant drop in the number of guests from the comparable period a year ago.

Jean Pierre Trabut, the general manager of Le Méridien, said he was still optimistic that the hotel would reach its targets. "I don't think we are in the same boat as Dubai," Mr Trabut said. "We haven't suffered a great impact due to the loss of leisure travel because we are more focused on corporate. We are, however, seeing things slow down for the first few days in January because there's been a drop in the number of Russians visiting."

About 80 per cent of the people who visit the capital are here on business, a sector of the tourism industry that is usually resilient during recessions. In comparison, Dubai attracts mostly leisure travellers. Dubai's hotels have reported occupancy rates of 60 to 70 per cent during the peak winter season, when hotels in previous years have been nearly full. Two weeks ago, Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing encouraged hotels to reduce rates by 60 per cent in exchange for promotion during the Dubai Shopping Festival, which is to begin on Jan 15.

Some of the reduced occupancy is also due to new hotels opening in the past year. Abu Dhabi, however, has a dearth of rooms. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has said it hopes to have 25,000 rooms by 2012, compared with 13,000 now. During major conferences, finding accommodation is often difficult. The shortage became so acute that during this year's Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the ADTA capped hotel rates to prevent price gouging. Organisers at the time said almost a quarter of the conference's 40,000 visitors had chosen to find hotel rooms in Dubai or Al Ain and to commute.

Neither Abu Dhabi nor Dubai has changed its tourism target to reflect the financial crisis. Abu Dhabi expects 2.7 million visitors by 2012 and Dubai hopes to attract 15m people by 2015. jgerson@thenational.ae