UAE: Hotels to see sliding occupancy levels

412otels in the UAE are expected to see occupancy levels fall during June and July but pick up in August, according to analysts.

“We anticipate both Abu Dhabi and Dubai will experience occupancy levels fall throughout July as it corresponds with [the holy month of] Ramadan, which historically sees demand levels fall, especially from GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and international leisure travellers,” said Christopher Hewett, Senior Consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting.

According to Philip Wooller, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa at STR Global, occupancy rates in May stood at 86 per cent in Dubai and 76 per cent in Abu Dhabi.

By June, he expects occupancy to touch 70 per cent in Dubai but it is likely to drop in July “due to the Ramadan shift” to an estimated 48 per cent.

Hewett said that in Dubai average room rates during the summer are expected to grow by around five per cent compared to the same period in 2013. “Abu Dhabi is witnessing average rates level off and therefore will experience similar rates to 2013,” he added.

Good offers

“Rates in Abu Dhabi are challenging due to new supply — down 7.9 per cent to Dh558 but Dubai is up 8.5 per cent and is now over the Dh1,000 for the month of May to date,” Wooller said.

He expects room rates during Ramadan to touch Dh420 in Abu Dhabi and Dh650 in Dubai.

While the summer season is a slow period for hotels, Wooller said “hotels are resourceful in packaging up their rates so there is some very good offers out there.”

Olivier Hick, Vice President of Operations for the Gulf and Levant countries at French hotel operator Accor, expects steady occupancy levels in its Dubai hotels over the coming months.

“While obviously being summer and until July with the Ramadan period [which starts from late June], the activity is expected to be lower than January to April, [which are] considered as high season and the peak months,” Hick told Gulf News in an emailed statement.

He added that “the Dubai activity for the coming months is also slightly impacted by the closing of one of the runway at Dubai International Airport that shall re-open at end of July.”

Dubai International is undergoing scheduled runway maintenance over an 80-day period, cutting the two runway airport down to just the one.

Booking

“I’m not sure that the runway closure is really having an impact — doesn’t seem that way and loadings over the summer will be lighter so no real impact,” Wooller said.

Hick expects occupancy to pick up during the early part of August.

Wooller estimates occupancy rates in Dubai during August to touch just under 70 per cent.

According to Haitham Mattar, Regional Vice President of Sales at hotel company Hilton Worldwide, guests have started booking since earlier this month.

“Interest is strong for Dubai and Abu Dhabi over this summer season,” he said.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Kuwait and the US account for the majority of the company’s guests this summer.

The GCC, India and China are expected to account for the majority of inbound travellers this summer, according to travel agencies.



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