Dubai hotels welcomed more than 11 million guests in 2013 – an increase of over one million on the 2012 numbers and a positive indication that Dubai is on the way to achieving its target of welcoming 20 million visitors a year by 2020.
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) released the statistics ahead of the global tourism industry gathering at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin this week, with the announced figures also showing increases across key indicators such as hotel establishment revenues and room occupancy.
Visitors and source markets
Guest numbers across all hotel establishments (hotels and hotel apartments) in 2013 reached 11,012,487, a 10.6 per cent increase on the 9,957,161 of 2012. Dubai’s top 10 hotel guest source markets remained, for the most part, unchanged when compared to 2012 - with some slight changes in positioning. Saudi Arabia, India, UK, USA, Russia, Kuwait, Germany, Oman, Iran and China made up the top ten for January to December 2013.
The Australia market experienced the most growth, with numbers up by 39 per cent from more than 193,000 in 2012 to more than 269,000 in 2013. This sizeable growth can be largely attributed to the partnership between Emirates Airline and Qantas announced in April 2013, which resulted in an increased flight volume between Dubai and Australia.
Saudi Arabia, consistently Dubai’s primary source market experienced further growth, with guest numbers up by 19.9 per cent to 1.35 million. China (ranked 10th) also continued to show significant increases, with visitors up by 11 per cent, partly as a result of the targeted marketing activities in China of DTCM and its partners in Dubai’s tourism industry of Dubai and the opening of DTCM’s fourth China office in late 2013. The increase can also be attributed to the growing propensity of Chinese tourists to travel outside of China.
Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DTCM, said: “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% 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.
“In order to achieve our target, we must deliver on our strategy to position Dubai as a foremost destination for both leisure and business travellers by continuously evolving our destination offering and attracting visitors from a broader range of source markets while growing the number received from the markets which have traditionally been strong. 10 months on from announcing the Tourism Vision we have seen solid progress, with a further diversification of our accommodation, attractions and events offering, and the announcements of a number of new initiatives which will contribute to driving visitor numbers.”
Hotel: occupancy, revenues and new openings 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.
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. These figures become even more significant given that 2013 saw a number of new accommodation options enter the market. The number of hotel rooms and apartments at the end of 2013 amounted to a total of 84,534 (611 establishments) compared to 80,414 (599 establishments) in 2012, representing an increase of over 5 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.
Almarri said: “A 16.1 per cent increase in revenues for our 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. In order to provide accommodation for our targeted visitor numbers for 2020, we estimate we need a total of between 140,000 to 160,000 rooms and will work closely with the investment industry to make this happen.”
In addition to the stated need to develop more hotels, broadening the range of accommodation offerings is one of the focuses needed in order to attract a wider market of visitors. The range of hotel openings throughout 2013 provides early testament to this: these included Barjeel Guest House in Bur Dubai; a number of two, three and four star properties including Vida Downtown Dubai, Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Novotel Hotel Al Barsha; five-star hotels in the city such as Conrad and Oberoi; and two new five-star resorts on the Palm Jumeirah, Sofitel and Anantara. The number of hotels grew from 599 at the end of 2012 to 611 at the end of 2013.
In September 2013 the Government announced an initiative to incentivise hotel owners to bring forward construction timelines of three and four star hotels, with eligible developments granted a concession on the standard 10 per cent Municipality Fee which is levied on the room rate for each night of occupancy. This was followed in January of this year by the issuance of a series of directives from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, designed to enhance and streamline hotel investment and development in the Emirate.
Almarri said: “The financial incentive to develop more mid-range hotels has been received very well by the hotel investment and development industry and will swell the number of mid-range hotels which are constructed and opened in the next three to four years. DTCM continues to work with our governmental and industry partners to ensure all measures are taken to broaden the destination offering.”
The hotel establishment guest figures were released ahead of ITB, where DTCM and a 50-strong delegation of partners from the Emirate’s tourism industry will promote Dubai’s diverse destination offering to key international buyers.