Dubai – The UAE’s tourism sector was also among the least affected and fastest to recover from the impact of Covid
The United Arab Emirates recorded the second highest hotel occupancy rate in the world last year despite the impact of the Covid pandemic, paving the way for the reception of 14.8 million hotel customers passing on average 3.7 nights per guest, according to one report.
The Ministry of Economy revealed that the UAE’s tourism sector was among the least affected and fastest to recover in the world due to the early reopening of the economy and the facilities offered to businesses.
Referring to official statistics released by the World Tourism Organization and the Emirates Tourism Board, the ministry said the UAE ranked second in the world for hotel occupancy rates with a rate of 54 .7% last year, just behind 58% from China which secured the top position. The United States ranks third with an occupancy rate of 37%.
While the global rate fell to 37% under the weight of the pandemic, and hotels in the Middle East region only recorded an occupancy rate of 43%. This parallels the significant decline in tourism activity, which fell 74% globally and 76% in the region.
“Despite the enormous challenges it has posed to the industry, the pandemic has also created new opportunities for domestic tourism,” said Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small Business. and medium enterprises.
Domestic tourism also contributed 41 billion dirhams to the national economy last year – a figure that is expected to double in the coming years.
The statistics also revealed that the United Arab Emirates suffered the least in terms of tourist traffic in 2020, where activity fell by only 45.2% – the smallest drop in the world. The United Arab Emirates was followed by Mexico, where tourist traffic fell by 52%, then Italy by 63%.
Hospitality establishments welcomed 14.8 million customers in 2020, who spent 54.2 million nights in 1,089 different establishments that offered approximately 180,000 rooms. This brings the average stay to 3.7 nights per guest, with returns of 318.5 Dh per room, according to the Ministry of Economy.
“The United Arab Emirates can benefit from its state-of-the-art infrastructure, modern facilities and wide range of services and activities to promote itself as a tourist destination with a lot to offer visitors, whether they are residents of the Emirates. United Arabs or foreign travellers,” Al Falasi said.
The Minister also affirmed that the next step will include new initiatives aimed at maintaining the exceptional performance of the sector and increasing the chances of recovery.
“The achievements of the tourism sector over the past year are the result of notable efforts by all parties involved to promote the sector at the federal and local levels. This is in addition to the proactive measures implemented by the UAE to address the outbreak and minimize its impact on public health,” he said.
lead from the front
Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President (Operations and Development) for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India at Swiss-Belhotel International, said the emirates have set an example for the world with how they quickly reopened their borders and their economy to welcome international travelers while developing domestic tourism. “We think 2021 will be a very good year for the UAE. Beach hotels will drive up the rate while city hotels will still fight for a better rate, but occupancy levels will be very good and the best in the region,” Voivenel told the Khaleej Times on Saturday.
“We have all been through an unprecedented difficult year. However, traveling is everyone’s number one wish as the world waits for the new normal. What is commendable is the way the UAE is getting tourism back on track with its proactive policies, advanced technologies and preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. added.
Voivenel paid tribute to the authorities for making the Covid-19 vaccine available so quickly and easily to all of us.
“We are confident, with the vaccine being rolled out and Expo Dubai starting on October 1 and the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations, a rebound will occur and hotel performance matrices will start to return to low levels. much healthier, both in terms of rates and occupancy. before the end of 2021. This will boost the growth of tourism in 2022. Moreover, Vision 2040 is absolutely remarkable and will open up new opportunities for our industry by enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE as a global destination,” he said. declared.
Lal Bhatia, Chairman of the Hilshaw Group, said Dubai‘s economy was dependent on business, tourism, finance and real estate, meaning losing its reputation as an investment destination is not ideal for the country.
“The UAE was determined to bring positive sentiment back to the economy through meritorious decisions and actions and Dubai’s visionary leadership ensured businesses had the confidence to continue operations without perishing in the tide. crisis,” Bhatia told the Khaleej Times on Saturday.
Expo 2020 a catalyst
Iftikhar Hamdani, Regional General Manager of Bahi Ajman Palace and Coral Beach Resort Sharjah, said all indicators show there will be a rapid increase in travel demand in the last quarter of 2021 due to Expo. 2020 – the biggest show in the world taking place in Dubai from October 2021.
“Hoteliers in the UAE in general and Dubai in particular are preparing for the large influx of business and leisure travelers at the international event. This event will mark the start of our comeback and we expect high hotel occupancy in the last quarter of 2021,” Hamdani told the Khaleej Times.
“We are confident that with strict health and safety measures in place, a state-of-the-art exhibition venue, top-notch aviation facilities, the best hospitality team in the world will make this event a This event is for all of us and it is our responsibility to play a part in the success of Expo 2020. In my opinion, every industry in the UAE will benefit from this event, so we are all stakeholders and it is our own event,” he said.