|By Zoe Sinclair, Khaleej Times, Dubai,
United Arab EmiratesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 9, 2008 - DUBAI -- Hotel occupancy rates in the city are down by 10 per cent compared to last summer's figures as people from GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates)are increasingly choosing to travel to destinations in the Far East, according to industry representatives.
However, some hotels say their bookings are strong and the extra number of rooms available on last year, in fact, means tourist numbers are higher.
Grand Hyatt Marketing Manager-Strategy Dinu Varghese said the hotel had experienced an average 70 per cent occupancy rate during June while July was expected to be about two to three per cent lower.
The June figures were nearly 10 per cent lower than that of June last year.
"The major market during this time comes from the GCC, so that hasn't kicked off yet," Varghese said.
Travelers from Saudi Arabia usually comprised the largest number of visitors during this period but Varghese said the late closure of schools had impacted the numbers.
However, the greatest drain on visitor numbers was the choice of the Far East, such as Malaysia, over the UAE due to aggressive marketing and deal promotions.
"Dubai needs more promotion," Varghese said. "Dubai is more expensive, while attractions like shopping discounts are available in the GCC now."
Hawthorne Hotel Sales Manager Subodh Mathur said the hotel had averaged about 70 per cent to 75 per cent during June but rates were dropping.
"During meetings with travel agents in the GCC the understanding is the traffic from the GCC is going to Europe and the Far East," Mathur said.
"The agents are not promoting Dubai. They feel the traffic is too much and the main attraction is shopping. But Dubai shopping is not as cheap as before," he pointed out.
However, Mathur said Hawthorne hotel rates were slightly higher over last summer but attributed this to the hotel's focus on attracting Iranian and Far Eastern clients in place of the traditional summer tourists from the GCC.
Kulwant Singh, Managing Partner in Lama Desert Tours and Cruises, said occupancy rates across the city were around 60 to 65 and similar to last year's rates.
He, however said the greater number of rooms available compared with last year had to be considered.
"There's always a dip in the market at this time," Singh said. "But we can't say numbers are down. There were about 34,000 rooms last year while this year there are 39,000 rooms."
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers reported soaring occupancy rates.
Sales and Marketing Director Deeksha Trivedi maintained that the city was popular as a year-round business and leisure destination.
"The outlook for summer is, indeed, very positive and we expect to see similar high level of occupancy as last year. The hotel occupancy level is between 85 and 92 per cent."
Fairmont Dubai said occupancy for the first half of 2008 was steady compared with last year. A slightly higher revenue for the first months of summer had also been noticed.'
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