UAE tourist arrivals to rise 9% in 2012

02 Feb 2012

 Number of foreign visitors to the UAE to touch 9 million this year after hotels in Abu Dhabi welcomed a record 2 million hotel guests in 2011

Arabian Travel Market, the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, is witnessing strong online visitor interest ahead of this year’s event, with the number of foreign tourists heading to the UAE this year expected to reach almost 9 million, according to the latest industry figures.

International industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI) forecasts 9% growth in 2012, which is a healthy increase beyond the 8.2 million tourists that arrived in the UAE last year.

Guest numbers at Dubai hotels rose 10% year-on-year to nearly 4.6 million for the first half of 2011, BMI said, as more visitors from the Middle East traveled to the UAE which continues to cement its status as a regional safe haven after political turmoil hit a number of countries.

Meanwhile a record number of guests checked into hotels in Abu Dhabi last year, according to latest figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).

Over 2.1 million guests checked into hotels in the country’s capital, beating an official target by 100,000 and a previous record high of around 1.8 million in 2010. The Abu Dhabi Formula One race and the expansion of the Etihad Airways’ network has helped to draw visitors there.

Despite a large increase in the number of available rooms, Dubai was the sole tourist destination in the region that has shown a rise in both occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2011 with increases of 4% and 4.5% respectively, Ernst & Young said in a recent report.

“With unrest sweeping much of the Middle East last year, the UAE saw an influx of tourism which boosts its status as a safe haven in the region,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

“The tourism market in Dubai is really picking up and consequently a number of hotel developers are restarting projects they put on hold in 2009 as a result of the downturn,” added Walsh.

According to STR Global Construction Pipeline Report November 2011, the UAE reported the largest numbers of rooms in the In Construction phase among the region’s key countries with 21,238 rooms.

The Middle East reported mixed results in the three key occupancy performance measurements in November 2011 due to the Arab Spring, STR Global said, adding that performances in individual countries differed greatly.

Occupancy fell by 4.3% to 65.8%, revenue per available room (RevPar) eased by 1% to US$121.28, while average daily rates increased 3.5% to US$184.24.

 “The political upheaval over the last 12 months has had differing impacts on travel and tourism across the region. While there is uncertainty in North Africa and the Levant the oil-exporting Gulf states are witnessing greater stability,” commented Walsh.

“Nonetheless, governments across the region continue to plough billions of dollars into tourism infrastructure while leading Gulf carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways expand aggressively,” he added.

Visitor registrations for the four-day Arabian Travel Market show, which opens on 30 April 2012, are already up 132% from the same time last year, at nearly 2,000 visitors.

The number of visitors from the UAE who have pre-registered has reached 1,201, an increase of 156% from the same time last year. Meanwhile, the number of visitors interested in buying products and services from there is up 126% at 1,868.

European pre-registrations have risen 94% to 342.

The number of tourists visiting the Middle East is expected to grow by up to 5% this year following an 8% decline last year, according to a recent report by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

There were an estimated 5 million fewer international tourist arrivals last year, down to 55 million, due to the turmoil in some of the region’s countries, UNWTO said.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its nineteenth year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.

Last year, 2,232 exhibitors covering nearly 20,000 square metres attracted more than 21,000 attendees.

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