Arabian Travel Market 2021: Dubai’s hotels set for another good week of occupancy

Dubai Tourism
Palm hotels are feeling the buzz, first with the Eid weekend stays and, next week, the Arabian Travel Market. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The Eid weekend and next week’s in-person Arabian Travel Market are providing Dubai’s hotels with some of the best occupancy levels and room rates since March 2020.

Occupancy levels are already at or past the 60 per cent, and should go further up between May 16-19, which is when ATM 2021 will be running. The average daily rate (ADR) is a little over Dh576, according to the hospitality consultancy STR, and a marked improvement on rates for most of 2020.

After a year’s break, the Arabian Travel Market – the region’s biggest travel and tourism trade event – comes back as an in-person event. It will run at Dubai World Trade Centre, with more than 60 countries participating, including representatives from Israel for the first time.

The authorities have timed the ATM 2021 schedule well, to immediately follow the Eid holidays, and with hotels experiencing a pickup in staycation numbers.

“ATM will create additional hotel demand that will lift Dubai past its realized levels of the past few months,” said Philip Wooller, Area Director Middle East & Africa, STR. “Eid has always been a period of strong hotel performance, and many hotels this year offer ‘added value’ options to entice guests to upgrade rooms. This would of course yield higher than anticipated revenues for properties.”

Rates hold up

Five-star hotel rates in Dubai are around Dh800 and go all the way up to Dh4,000 for a night’s stay. As per travel websites, a night at the Five Palm Jumeirah can be Dh1,800, while its sister hotel in Jumeirah Village comes a lot cheaper at Dh787. Atlantis on the Palm is charging over Dh2,000 for a night, while the Four Seasons at Jumeirah Beach is over Dh5,000. A stay at Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arab will also cost over Dh5,000.

Pinning all hopes

At Arabian Travel Market 2021, there will be 67 conference sessions with over 145 local, regional and international speakers. “Demand generating events such as ATM are always welcome and should help some hotels continue to drive momentum post-Eid,” said Wooller.

However, major source markets such as the UK and India remain cut off, and will be a huge source of concern for industry insiders. “With entry restrictions still in place from and to countries, it will be interesting to see if and how that demand will be replaced,” said Wooller.

UK is crucial

“The UK market is very important for us, it’s about 10 per cent of our business overall,” said Mark Kirby, Head of Hospitality at Emaar Hospitality Group. “We’re still waiting for news from the UK – there are indications that they will start traveling May-June onwards”

With Emaar set to open up new beach properties under its hotel brands, UK travellers will be even more significant, he added.

Early days

UAE’s inbound flights from India – it’s largest source market – remain suspended indefinitely due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. But it looks like it will not have that big of an impact on the hospitality sector. It’s still “early days, and India for our hotels is not a major market,” said Kirby.