Dubai rethinks hotel room strategy

A co-ordination strategy drawn up between event organisers and the hospitality sector will enable Dubai to continue ensure that sufficient hotel rooms are made available until new supply comes onto the market over the next few years. In 2006, Dubai hotel occupancy rates were the highest in the world at 86 percent, with occupancy in the five star hotel segment reaching 92 percent, according to figures from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). Dubai had an estimated 40,000 hotel rooms at the end of 2006.

Such record occupancy rates have provided a challenge for event organisers to accommodate the high volumes of trade visitors Dubai welcomes every year. The exhibition industry is registering double digit visitor growth in major events across almost every industry, with some trade fairs experiencing a 30 percent year-on-year rise in 2007, creating demand for a significant number of hotel rooms.

A coordinated action plan - drawn up during 2006 - is now being rolled out to ensure that capacity is available during major exhibitions, with a task force involving major hotel groups and Dubai World Trade Centre’s Dubai in house hotel booking team.

‘DWTC has a long history of ensuring the availability of hotel space for business travellers, dating back to the first trade shows held in Dubai, which required special provisions and the creation of new facilities. In 2006, we made the strategic decision to create a dedicated business unit that would work with hotels across the city to ensure the sufficient supply of rooms for major events,’ said Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre.

‘That team is now heavily engaged in reserving rooms and ensuring that hotel groups are fully aware of the size and timing of major events over the next two years and beyond. The hotel groups within Dubai have been very supportive and have taken the extra mile to ensure that visitor demand is met,’ he added.

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The co-ordinated strategy is one of the most comprehensive ever launched in the region. For the forthcoming GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK, which runs from 8-12 September 2007, DWTC has reserved a record number of rooms, which will be made available to the visitors set to arrive in Dubai for the week.

‘Local and international groups are looking to organise events of the highest possible standard in their respective industries, and the provision of a range of accommodation for visitors is a critical success factor for any major conference or exhibition. Hotel groups within Dubai have recognised the importance of co-operation in this area, and together we’re providing accommodation solutions for our visitors,’ said Amal Khoury, Congress Manager, Dubai Congress Management, the strategic business unit within DWTC focused on this area.

Industry analysts are confident that the short-term challenge of ensuring sufficient hotel rooms will be alleviated by the construction boom in Dubai’s hospitality sector.

Dubai Exhibition World, currently under development, will provide a range of dedicated four- and five-star hotel accommodation and serviced apartments when it opens in 2010. In addition, major developments like Bawadi, which is set to host 51 hotels offering a total of 60,000 rooms, will also ensure continued room for growth and development in the event sector. By 2016, the estimated number of hotel rooms in Dubai will top 93,867.
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