x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

More empty beds in capital's hotels as room numbers grow

The number of empty hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi increased sharply last month compared with the same period last year.

The number of empty hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi increased sharply last month compared with the same period last year as new developments continued to open their doors. Hotel occupancy levels declined 27.1 per cent to 56.5 per cent in the capital, according to data from the hotel market experts STR Global.

The average daily rate for a room was also down to US$286.80 (Dh1,053.45), a decline of 18.3 per cent. The decline led to a 40.5 per cent drop in revenue per available room, the key indicator for the health of the industry. The number of hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi increased to 17,500 by the end of last year from 12,800 at the beginning of the year. Another 5,000 rooms are planned to open in the capital by the end of this year, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.

Most prominent among Abu Dhabi hotels that opened in the final three months of last year were seven on Yas Island, plus the Park Rotana, the Holiday Inn and the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. Tracy Baron, the senior manager at Deloitte Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure in Dubai, said Abu Dhabi had too little supply in the past, as shown by occupancy levels above 80 per cent early last year. "When you have such high occupancies you obviously don't have enough supply, so your service quality can suffer," Ms Baron said. "It's one thing getting someone in today, but you need to get them back in tomorrow."

She added, however, that an increase in supply could lead to an improvement in quality and service at Abu Dhabi hotels. "It [Abu Dhabi] has become much more of a tourism destination than it ever has been before, especially in the last six months, especially with the development of Yas Island." Dubai, meanwhile, started to see an improvement in its occupancy levels last month, following steep declines last year.

Occupancy in Dubai increased by 6.1 per cent to 72.1 per cent. Average daily rates, however, were down 23.4 per cent to $180.26 in the emirate. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae