UAE hotels outpaced global peers in 2020; Prepares for a V-shaped recovery

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Hotel Occupancy
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The hotels in the UAE and around the Middle East region are preparing to make a V-shaped recovery after exhibiting a “sterling performance” compared to their global peers in 2020, as per an industry source.

According to the leading hotel sector market data provider, STR data, last year, the hotel occupancy rate in the UAE and the Middle East region reached 51.7 percent and 45.9 percent, respectively.

Danielle Curtis
Danielle Curtis
Exhibition Director
Arabian Travel Market
Middle East

“Although these figures were [16.5 percent and 29.3 percent] down year-on-year, given the challenges presented by the pandemic, it is a remarkable achievement and proves just how resilient the hotel sector is in the UAE and wider Middle East. If we drill down on these figures, [average daily rate] in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah actually rose last year by 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively, compared with 2019.”

In 2020, the UAE was one of the best-performing countries, while the Middle East region was positioned as a top performer globally. During the New Year’s celebrations, hotels across Dubai were operating with an average occupancy rate of 76 percent, with daily rents averaging $300.

Hotels in the UAE, which relies on tourism revenues, were among the worst suffered sector by the pandemic last year. Establishments in the hospitality industry were forced to shut down following government-mandated restrictions in March.

While the restrictions eased in the middle of last year, visitor arrivals remained low and only started to improve towards the end of 2020 and early this year. According to STR’s December 2020 data for Dubai hotels, the average daily rate and revenue per available room were the highest in Dubai since January.

“I am certain that many hoteliers in the Middle East are now preparing for a V-shaped recovery, especially with the successful rollout of the vaccine and the ensuring herd immunity,” Ms. Curtis added.

Meanwhile, a recent YouGov luxury survey reveals that more than half of its respondents were planning to take a domestic holiday or staycation during 2021, which gives a positive signal for the regional hospitality sector across the globe. Further, 25 percent were planning to make a business trip, either domestically or internationally, with only 4 percent having no plans to travel anywhere in 2021.

Also Read: Qatar’s hospitality sector signals smooth recovery from COVID-19