UAE hotel occupancy, revenue rises indicate rebound from coronavirus crisis

New figures reveal that occupancy rates and RevPAR rose in October to highest mark since February as domestic tourists boost market

The UAE recorded its best tourism performance figures since February last month, boosted primarily by the domestic market.

While Dubai welcomed back tourists since the start of July, following the enforced coronavirus lockdown measures, Abu Dhabi remains closed to international visitors.

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Last month, Saeed Al Saeed, marketing director at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, told Arabian Business that the emirate would not be rushed into making a decision.

New figures from analysts STR revealed that the UAE’s hotel occupancy rose to 52.7 percent in October, down by more than 31 percent compared to the same month last year but the highest rate since coronavirus first hit the region.

STR also said that average daily rates charged by hotels in the UAE stood at AED358.69, down 33.2 percent on October 2019.

Revenue per available room was also at an eight-month high last month at AED189.19, although this figure was 54.2 percent below the year-earlier period.

Each of the three key performance metrics were up from previous months while the occupancy and RevPAR levels were the highest in the UAE since February.

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In the wider Middle East, hotel occupancy stood at 44.2 percent, down 33.8 percent on a year ago, while ADR was $108.47, a fall of 23.2 percent, and RevPAR was $47.96, down 49.2 percent.

Earlier this week, CBRE said domestic tourism in the UAE had “exploded” as a result of the coronavirus crisis although the country still had some way to go to become a holiday haven for residents.

The global Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of international borders, although Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah have since reopened to tourists from abroad.

As a result the domestic market has taken off – Abu Dhabi achieved the highest hotel occupancy rates and the third highest revenue per room in the region in Q3.

According to Bruno Trenchard, senior manager – hotels and hospitality, at CBRE Middle East, “countless resorts” across the country were “doing really well”, boosted by the rise in domestic tourism.

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According to CBRE’s UAE Domestic Tourism Trends & opportunities for the hospitality sector, just one in five hotel guests in the country were UAE nationals – pre-Covid. Trenchard said that figure has since gone up to around 90 percent of guests.

The report identified a number of areas where opportunities exist to further capitalise on the domestic tourism market, including camping or glamping, desert resorts and midscale and upscale beach resorts.

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