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March 12--DUBAI -- Abu Dhabi hotel room rates fell by almost a quarter in February as demand slowed, with a major exhibition being held in the emirate in an off year.

Average daily room rates (ADR) were down 23.3 percent to 431.34 dirhams in February, industry monitor STR said, while revenue per available room was 19.4 percent lower to 349.20 percent.

Occupancy rate meanwhile rose 5.1 percent to 81 percent as hotel room supply remained flat while demand was 5.1 percent higher.

"Preliminary 2018 data for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, indicates strong occupancy growth but lower rates due to difficult-to-match comparisons from 2017," STR said.

"The absolute occupancy level would be the highest for a February in Abu Dhabi since 2009," it said. "The decline in ADR came as a result of an off year for the biennial International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX), which will be held once again in February 2019.

More than 105,000 visitors attended the show's 2017 edition, with about 1,235 companies -- including big hitters such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Rostec -- from 57 countries attending the event.

Abu Dhabi tourism authorities are expecting six million hotel guests this year as the emirate steps up efforts to promote tourism.

The recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi -- the only regional presence of France's famous museum -- hopes to entice art enthusiasts and other visitors from around the world, particularly China and Russia.

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