x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Jeddah hoteliers benefit from surge in 'staycations'

Hotels in Jeddah are benefiting as many Saudis choose to remain in their home country for their holidays this year.

"Staycations" are swelling occupancy numbers at Jeddah hotels as many Saudis choose to holiday at home because of unrest in other parts of the region.

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"It has improved compared to the last year," said Abu Zubair, a sales manager at the Golden Tulip hotel in Jeddah. "Because of the political situation people are very reluctant to go to other parts of the region."

He said the hotel would benefit next month from the pilgrimages during Ramadan, with Jeddah being a gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The corniche, restaurants and souqs are among the main attractions of Jeddah that make it a popular destination for Saudis from other part of the kingdom in particular, Mr Zubair said. The city is located on the coast of the Red Sea. Occupancy levels at hotels in Jeddah increased by 12.8 per cent to 78.2 per cent last month compared with June last year, according to data from STR Global, the research company based in London.

Revenue per available room, a key industry indicator that factors in occupancy and average daily rates, increased by 26 per cent last month to US$168.06 (Dh617.28) in the city, the figures showed.

"There has been no new supply coming to the market in Jeddah for a long time," said Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, the senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Middle East and Africa.

"Both as a gateway to the holy cities and as a main leisure city in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah has this unique role. With regard to the latter factor, it seems that the short summer season because of Ramadan, the promotional campaigns of the Saudi commission for tourism and antiquities, and other regional factors, will have a positive impact on domestic tourism in KSA in general."

Domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia fell more than 28 per cent last year to 23.9 million trips from 33.5 million in 2009, partly because Saudi nationals increasingly travelled abroad for holidays, according to data from MAS, Saudi Arabia's Tourism Information and Research Centre.

By contrast, there was almost a 17 per cent increase in outbound tourism last year, with 7.55 million Saudis travelling abroad compared with 6.467 million in 2009, and a 62.9 per cent rise in the number of nights they spent outside the country.

Dubai, meanwhile, has also benefited substantially recently as Saudis and holidaymakers from other parts of the GCC avoid destinations that have experienced upheaval.

Last month, Dubai's hotels reported a 12 per cent increase in occupancy levels to 70 per cent, despite an increase in supply, the data from STR Global showed.

The Dubai Summer Surprises shopping festival also helped attract many tourists in the past few weeks, as visitors from the region have headed to Dubai in force as they take their holidays before the start of Ramadan.

Hotels in North Africa experienced a drop in occupancy levels from 62.7 per cent in June last year to 43.1 per cent last month.

The Middle East recorded a 4.3 per cent increase in occupancy levels last month.