UAE, Saudi hotels to rebound faster from COVID-19

Hoteliers across emirates to benefit from build-up to World Expo

Image used for illustrative purpose. A cosy bedroom decorated in neutral colours, with a double bed and bedside lights on. Hospitality.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A cosy bedroom decorated in neutral colours, with a double bed and bedside lights on. Hospitality.

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Hotels in the UAE and Saudi Arabia will rebound faster from the coronavirus pandemic than their peers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to a new analysis.

Occupancy levels in hotels across the region dropped by more than half in recent months due to the global lockdowns and ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

By the end of the year, full-year occupancy rates in Dubai’s hotels will range between 39 percent and 45 percent, dropping by as much as 50 percent compared to 2019, Colliers’ latest data showed.

In other emirates, including Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Fujairah, occupancy levels will be between 43 percent and 57 percent, falling by as much as 41 percent compared to 2019.

Hardest hit

Across the MENA region, hotels in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut, which has recently been rocked by a massive explosion, will post the lowest full-year occupancy rate, at just 25 percent for the whole year.

“The travel and tourism sector has been hit hardest by coronavirus, as governments continue to introduce measures to slow the spread of [COVID-19],” Collier said in a report released on Sunday.

“Hotel owners are also taking precautions as travel comes to a halt,” it added.

Colliers said there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market regarding the expected performance of hotels. However, it said that the recovery is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of the year, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia rebounding much faster than the other countries.

“[The] UAE [will] benefit from the build-up to the Expo with the actual event expected to start in [the four quarter of] 2021,” Colliers said.

“[For Saudi Arabia, the] forecast in 2020 assumes restricted pilgrim access to Makkah and Madinah during Ramadan and Haj. Once the expected recovery begins in [the four quarter of 2020], the markets are expected to continue benefiting from the ongoing tourism initiatives, upcoming mega projects as well as domestic tourism,” Colliers added.


By 2021, hotels in Dubai will post occupancy rates of between 67 and 69 percent, while in other emirates, the rate will be between 49 percent and 65 percent, with those in Ras Al Khaimah City attracting the most bookings.

In Saudi Arabia, hotels will post occupancy levels ranging between 49 and 56 percent.

A survey conducted by Dnata earlier found that 91 percent of people in the UAE wanted to travel around the country or experience more of the emirates in 2020 and 2021.

The findings prompted Dnata’s travel experts to predict that there will be an increase in domestic travel across the country throughout 2020 and beyond.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Mily Chakrabarty)

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