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March 05--Hotels in Dubai welcomed more than 11 million guests in 2013, recording a 10.6 per cent surge or one million on the previous year, reflecting the buoyancy of the hospitality and tourism sector, which is on track to draw 20 million tourists by 2020.

Buoyed by the tourism boom, Dubai will be adding 141 hotel establishments, including 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments, bringing the total to 751 hotel establishments and around 114,000 rooms by 2016.

Guest numbers across all hotel establishments (hotels and hotel apartments) in 2013 rose 11.012, one million up from 9.95 million in 2012, data released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) showed. Dubai's top 10 hotel guest source markets were Saudi Arabia, India, the UK, USA, Russia, Kuwait, Germany, Oman, Iran and China.

The Australian market experienced the most growth, with numbers up by 39 per cent to more than 269,000 visitors in 2013 -- a result largely attributed to increased flights following the partnership between Emirates airline and Qantas announced in April 2013.

"The strong growth shown in hotel establishment guests in 2013 is a positive first step on our journey to 2020. Having announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 in May 2013, a 10.6 per cent growth in hotel establishment guests demonstrates that we are on track to double the 10 million tourists received in 2012 to 20 million per year by 2020 and is an affirmation of the destination's ever increasing appeal," said Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of DTCM.

Revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth with total revenues up by 16.1 per cent reaching Dh21.84 billion for 2013.

The increase in revenues for hoteliers is an indicator of the healthy state of the hospitality industry while an occupancy rate of 82 per cent demonstrates to the hotel investment industry that Dubai is one of the world's most attractive investment opportunities, Almarri said.

"In order to provide accommodation for our targeted visitor numbers for 2020, we estimate that we need a total of between 140,000 and 160,000 rooms and will work closely with the investment industry to make this happen," he said.

Total guest nights also recorded increases, up 11.0 per cent to 41.57 million when compared to 37.45 million in 2012. Occupancy rates for hotel rooms and hotel apartments increased from 78 per cent to 80 per cent, while the occupancy rate for hotel apartments was 82 per cent, up 6.5 per cent when compared to 2012.

Saudi Arabia, consistently Dubai's primary source market, experienced further growth, with guest numbers up by 19.9 per cent to 1.35 million, DTCM said in a statement.

China (ranked 10th) also continued to show significant increases, with visitors up by 11 per cent.

Dubai's 611 hotels and hotel apartments have a combined total of 84,534 rooms compared to 80,414 (599 establishments) in 2012, representing an increase of over five per cent.

In the current development pipeline for 2014-2016 there will be an additional 141 hotel establishments added to the market including 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments bringing the total to 751 hotel establishments and just under 114,000 rooms.

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