The UAE’s hospitality sector has exceeded pre-pandemic performance, with hotels in the country posting combined revenues of 11 billion dirhams ($3 billion) in the first quarter, up by 20 percent from 2019, according to new data released by the Ministry of Economy. 

The growth was underpinned by high volume of visitors from international source markets, particularly India, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States.  

From January to March 2022, close to six million guests checked into hotel establishments in the UAE and spent 25 million nights, reflecting a growth of 10 percent compared to the same period in 2019. 

Hotels in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE have returned to full capacity after COVID-19 restrictions eased, with around 200,000 rooms welcoming guests during the quarter. Average hotel occupancy during the period stood at 80 percent, said to be the highest globally. 

The tourism and travel is one of the priority sectors for the UAE economy, contributing nearly 180.4 billion dirhams or 11.6 percent of the total gross domestic product in 2019, according to government figures. 

Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, and Chairman of the UAE Tourism Council, said the Q1 2022 figures, which also exceeded those in 2020 and 2021, confirm that the tourism sector has made a “strong comeback” after it was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The major events held in the UAE over the past months, including Expo 2020 Dubai, also helped boost the hotel industry’s performance. Expo 2020 attracted more than 24 million visitors over a six-month period. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)