Hotels enjoy high occupancy by festive season tourists in the UAE
The emirate’s reputation as a safe haven in a region of turmoil has served to reinforce its lure during the festive season. Hoteliers are expecting an average of 80 percent occupancy and upwards for Christmas and New Year as tourists flock to the UAE to enjoy the balmy winter weather and stability it offers.
“The occupancy is higher than last year, taking into consideration that the market was still affected by the crisis. However, things are changing and we are seeing an improvement. This trend will continue till the end of the year,” Moussa El Hayek, chief operating officer at Al Bustan Centre & Residence, told Gulf News.
Tourist influx to rise
Raki Philips, area director of sales and marketing at The Fairmont UAE, said the hotel is close to being fully booked between December 27 and January 1. Prior to that period, the hotel management is expecting an average occupancy of around 80 percent. “If you consider people visiting the UAE, a lot of them are business travellers so most of them are still at work. A lot of vacation packages and school holidays start taking off from Boxing Day,” he said.
Wael El Behi, executive assistant manager at Ramada Downtown Dubai, claims the hotel has experienced a 15 percent rise in occupancy compared to the same period last year. He forecasts the hotel will have an 85-90 percent occupancy during Christmas and 90-100 percent for the New Year.
“Our reservations in the books are already at 88 percent and we will get last minute bookings as we get closer to the D-day. This year has been much better than last year, where our occupancy stood at 80 percent,” said Iftikhar Hamdani, general manager, Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman. Most hoteliers cite the GCC countries and Europe as their biggest source markets.
Dubai: regional hub
“During this time of the year, over 60 percent of visitors are from the GCC. Owing to the school holidays all over the region, most families travel to Dubai since it is the closest vibrant hub,” said El Behi. Visitors from Russia make up 20 percent of the traveller mix while the remaining 20 percent come from across the United Kingdom and Asia, according to El Behi.
Hoteliers are also reporting a steady increase in tourists from China and India. “We have seen a rapid increase in Indian, Chinese and German guests this year. Accordingly, we plan to visit these countries and attend travel fairs in 2012,” said Hamdani.
Philips claims there has also been an increase of tourists from South America due to better flight routes. “One of our new source markets is South America due to Emirates offering direct flights to Brazil and Buenos Aires,” he said. Local airlines such as flydubai are also leveraging the increase in tourist footfall during this period. “Our flights are experiencing good demand over the holiday season. In fact, we have added extra flights on some routes, such as Beirut, Amman and Belgrade, to cope up with the demand,” a flydubai spokesperson told Gulf News.
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