The UAE’s hospitality sector has been one of the worst-hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. And it will be one of the first also to recover from the pandemic and lead the growth. Generally, more open economies are the first ones to take a hit during any crisis and they’re also the first to recover from the crisis. In this case, such economies’ key sectors that are reliant on external factors lead the growth. The UAE’s buoyant hospitality is also tracking the same path and is now on course to lead economic recovery on the back of staycations and slow and steady return of foreign tourists. The hospitality sectors of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have reported improvement in occupancy levels as well revenues per available room (RevPar).
Global hospitality data provider STR on Tuesday revealed that Abu Dhabi’s hotel industry posted its highest occupancy — 68.5 per cent — since the start of the pandemic in June 2021. The absolute occupancy level was the highest for any month in Abu Dhabi since February 2020, while the absolute revenue per available room was the market’s highest since February 2021. Similarly, Dubai’s hospitality sector strides ahead and leads the emirate’s economic recovery, reporting a good occupancy level on the back of staycations. After nosediving to less than 25 per cent in April 2020, Dubai’s occupancy rates have steadily improved as a result of various hygiene and safety measures. December 2020 marked a 12-month high of 69 per cent, followed by a slight decrease to 59.4 per cent in April 2021 due to the holy month of Ramadan. The emirate’s occupancy levels are significantly higher than the Middle East and Africa region’s 2020 rate of 49 per cent. Going forward, hoteliers are quite sanguine and expect that 60 per cent-plus occupancy will be sustainable.
Similarly, RevPAR in Dubai grew by a whopping more than 550 per cent during 2020. However, with school holidays starting in July, analysts expect demand for staycations to further increase. With the UAE now declared one of the safest countries in the world for Covid-19 measures, foreign tourist inflow also is bound to increase. The icing on the cake is Expo 2020 Dubai which will take occupancy levels to over 90 per cent in most of the hotels from October 2021. But hotels located in the vicinity of the Expo site are even more confident, hoping for full occupancy during the mega event. Thus, staycations during summer and foreign visitor inflows during the Expo point to a rosy outlook for the UAE hospitality sector which will lead the UAE’s economic recovery.
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