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25 April 2024

Hotel occupancy warms up to fest

By Bindu Rai

Hotels have reported robust occupancy levels for the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which kicks off today amid much fanfare across the city.

Organisers have confirmed a two to five per cent increase in visitors from last year, which was recorded at 3.35 million, with participating hotels offering discounts of nearly 40 per cent on room rates, along with free nights stay and complimentary upgrades.

“We are expecting to see a positive growth in visitors this year, with anywhere between two and five per cent from 2009’s tally of 3.35 million visitors,” said a spokesperson for the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (Depe), formerly known as the DSF office.

He added: “This year’s influx of tourists should be from the GCC and emerging markets such as China and India. We are especially positive about India, considering in 2009, hotels in Dubai saw a seven per cent increase in Indian tourists – a year when the entire hospitality industry was plagued with economic downturn.

“This is why Depe has partnered with Emirates airline and credit card firm Visa to waive visa fees and increase seat capacity on Indian routes,” he said

While organisers are bullish about DSF in 2010, the local hospitality industry is not far behind. Earlier this week, Rotana Hotels and Resorts forecasted 100 per cent occupancy rates during DSF 2010 in its hotels in Dubai.

Naeem Darkazally, Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Rotana Dubai and Northern Emirates said: “We can feel the recovery and are optimistic for 2010 and I am glad to announce that our properties in Dubai will be running 100 per cent occupancy rates during DSF 2010.”

Omer Kaddouri, Senior Vice-President, UAE Operations for Rotana said: “All 11 Rotana hotel properties across Dubai will be participating in DSF, with more than 3,300 rooms being available on special rates or discounts.”

Nils Sven Rothbarth, General Manager of the recently opened Gold Swiss-Belhotel Dubai, also portrayed his optimism for the shopping festival, which the hotel will partner with for the very first time.

He told Emirates Business: “While it’s not possible to speculate on the projected occupancy level during February, we are very positive that this property will benefit from the increased tourist numbers.”

Steven Greenwood, Hotel Manager, InterContinental Dubai Festival City, echoed the statement, saying: “With DSF, one of the main attractions for visitors is great discounts, and added values. Being part of a mixed-use development, InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels at Dubai Festival City have a direct internal link to Festival Centre. This is a strong position to have.”

He added: “Both, InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels are currently enjoying healthy rates and occupancies. In comparison to 2009, the rates in Q1 have gone down in various markets, and Dubai is no exception. However, we should be able to achieve healthy ADR performance during DSF.”

Marko Hytolen, Area Vice-President, Rezidor Hotels Group, takes a more conservative approach to DSF, saying: “Traditionally, February has always been one of the strongest months for the hospitality industry in Dubai.

“Everyone knows that globally, the hospitality industry has suffered due to last year’s economic downturn and the shopping festival provides that healthy boost to businesses after a dismissive 2009.”


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