x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

There's little room at the inn in Dubai

Hotels in Dubai are looking forward to a joyous holiday season, as more tourists head to the emirate for their holidays.

Business for Dubai's hotels for the Christmas and New Year period is being boosted by factors including the Arab Spring and the emirate's appeal to a wider range of markets. Jaime Puebla / The National
Business for Dubai's hotels for the Christmas and New Year period is being boosted by factors including the Arab Spring and the emirate's appeal to a wider range of markets. Jaime Puebla / The National

Hotels in Dubai are looking forward to a joyous holiday season, as more tourists head to the emirate for their holidays.

Business for the Christmas and New Year period is being boosted by factors including the Arab Spring and Dubai's appeal to a wider range of markets because of its relative affordability, hoteliers say. There has been particularly strong growth in the number of bookings from Russian tourists, as well as China and eastern Europe.

"We're all looking at a very healthy, high demand for the festive season," said Naeem Darkazally, the vice president of sales and revenue at Rotana Hotels, which manages 13 properties in Dubai.

"We're seeing heavy demand coming from traditional markets, such as the German market, the UK, the Russians, the CIS [the Commonwealth of Independent States]. Also there's a good demand from leisure groups from China and India.

"In many of our hotels, we're already fully booked for the New Year period. We are more affordable to more secondary markets, to more layers of societies of different source markets. What's happening in the Middle East, definitely that creates potential from other leisure destinations."

In terms of bookings, the company's hotels in Dubai have 25 per cent more business for the Christmas period up to the first week of January compared with last year.

"Because the demand is so high, of course we've been able to moderately increase our average room rates in certain markets," said Mr Darkazally.

"We've also done some creative packaging for people to pick up stays with families. I think we're seeing a nice increase in RevPAR [revenue per available room]."

He estimated there had been a 15 per cent increase in Russian bookings, saying that this was partly because people were avoiding popular resort destinations in Egypt such as Sharm El Sheikh.

This year as a whole has been very positive for hotels in Dubai.

The Ramada Downtown hotel has reported that its revenues are up by at least 25 per cent year-to-date from a year ago. Occupancy levels are up to 76 per cent this year so far compared with 62 per cent for the same period last year.

The hotel is expected to achieve full occupancy on at least a couple of nights between Christmas and the end of the year and is forecasting an average 85 per cent occupancy for this month, said Wael El Behi, the executive assistant manager at the Ramada Downtown.

"The weather factor is important because the weather is great now in Dubai and people are looking to run away from the cold weather in Europe."

The hotel continues to attract visitors from GCC markets, while guests from South America, Russia and the UK are also helping to boost business for the holiday season, he added.

"For the month of January, with the Dubai Shopping Festival taking place, we are witnessing a very good pick up, especially the third week of January, with the GCC holidays. It looks like a good start to the year."

Although corporate business slows down during the holiday season, for New Year and with the Volvo Ocean Race's arrival in Abu Dhabi coinciding with the start of the year, hotels in the capital look are likely to be busy.

"We're expecting sold-out dates both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for New Year," said Raki Phillips, the area director of sales and marketing for Fairmont in the UAE.

Al Bustan Centre & Residence in Dubai has had a 30 per cent growth in revenues this year, the hotel said.

Moussa El Hayek, the chief operating officer at the Dubai hotel, said that as well as growth in the numbers of Russians coming in, there were also more Chinese groups, and charter flights from Bulgaria and Poland were bringing in more guests. The hotel had managed a slight increase in average room rates, he added.

"We believe that next year is going to be another rewarding year," said Mr El Hayek.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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