DUBAI (Reuters) – The number of hotel guests in Abu Dhabi jumped 38 percent year-on-year in July, boosted by arrivals from Gulf Arab and Middle Eastern countries ahead of Ramadan, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said on Monday.
The gains also reflect a rise in hotel occupancy throughout the United Arab Emirates this year as some tourists changed travel plans in response to the unrest that has hit other countries in the region such as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.
Occupancy levels in the hotels and hotel apartments of the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi rose 9 points to 65 percent in July and revenue was up 6 percent at 271 million dirhams, ADTA said.
“The regional upsurge could likely be attributed to (Gulf Cooperation Council) travellers opting to spend time in a destination they associate with safety for their families and with more of them choosing to holiday in July ahead of the holy month of Ramadan when they wish to be at home with their families,” said Lawrence Franklin, the ADTA’s strategy and policy director.
Ramadan, which this year fell in August, and the Eid holiday that immediately follows it, included shortened working hours and large family gatherings to break the daily fast.
Numbers of guests from the GCC region rose by 98 percent.
Abu Dhabi accounts for 55 percent of the UAE economy and invests billions of dollars in industry, tourism and infrastructure to diversify away from oil.
The emirate hosts many leisure and entertainment events, including a Formula 1 motor racing Grand Prix, as well as major conferences and exhibitions.
“Stability is a vital factor to attract tourists to this country,” said Mohamed Amerah, economic adviser at the Ajman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Saudis or Kuwaitis used to go to Syria, but Syria is now out of the way, nobody goes there anymore (or) in the foreseeable future.”
Year-to-date occupancy levels at Abu Dhabi hotels were up 10 percent to 70 percent, while revenues were up 6 percent reaching 2.53 billion dirhams, the data also showed.
The United Kingdom remained the top international source market with a 21 percent increase in guest nights, followed by the United States and India.