Dubai Hotel Business Posts Gains as MICE Activities Up in First Quarter


By Haseeb Haider 

ABU DHABI — With the improvement in the economic indicators, the UAE’s hotel industry has done ‘good’ business in the first quarter of the year led by Dubai, on the back of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition or MICE activity that has contributed to the strong room occupancy, top officials said.

“The room occupancy in Dubai was third highest in the world in the month of January, as a sign of improvement in the business activities”, said Khalid Ahmed Al Sulayem, the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Gulf, Incentives, Business, Travel and Meeting Exhibition or GIBTM that was inaugurated on Monday, he said the first quarter of the year was ‘good’.

About the room rents fluctuation in the wake of financial crisis and slow arrivals, he said room rents with an average of $250 per day, coupled with a highest occupancy rate was a strong indicator of the market sentiments.

The city-emirate attracted over 7.5 million visitors in 2009, which was a year of economic slowdown world-wide.

The director general said that resolution to the Dubai World’s debt restructuring would further impact positively on the business sentiments in the emirate, beaming strong signals across the world.

In the last year, the director general said 4000-new room capacity was added to Dubai’s burgeoning hotel industry that expanded to 43,000 rooms, an addition of about 20 per cent comparing with 2008. He expected a huge inventory of 20,000 rooms was in the pipe line this year.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is expecting a handsome growth of ten per cent in its MICE related business activities this year, said Mubarak Rashid Al Nuaimi, International Promotions Manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism Development Authority.Abu Dhabi is satisfied with the expansion of its MICE activities in the year 2009, he said as it is providing maximum incentives to private sector to market Abu Dhabi. This year, he said Abu Dhabi will bring three more MICE events to the city to take the tally to 20 events, to boosting the hospitality industry.

In spite of a strong built-up of the room inventory in the emirate, the situation is improving, said Kamal Fakhoury, the Director of Operations at Cristal Hotel in the capital.

Fakhoury said that Island capital’s hotel industry saw a huge expansion last year when about ten 4- star and 5-star properties entered the market with over 4000-rooms, during a period marred by economic slowdown. The number was quite significant as the market already had 12000-13000 rooms, the Director Operations said. “Now this inventory will go up further this year to hit over 20,000 rooms,” Fakhoury said, who recently launched Cristal Hotel in the capital.

The hotelier expects a tough competition ahead in the year for vying business in Abu Dhabi, a market that catered to corporate business segment, with the arrival of 3000-4000 rooms that would be launched between summer and winter. The supply will certainly affect the average room rents by up to 10 per cent, he suggested.   Sales Opportunities Manager of Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airlines, David Granville said that the airlines had made Abu Dhabi, a truly transit destination with the launch of non-stop flight to Tokyo.