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Redefining the holiday blues
Financial crisis + mass lay-offs = no money for vacations. It doesn’t look good for the UAE’s hospitality industry
October 28, 2008 2:27 by kippreport
With the financial crisis shredding markets throughout the region, luxury tourism has become a fantasy many can no longer finance through credit.
The National reported on October 22 that a study published by the US-based International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) has urged marketing and hotel managers to think of new strategies to attract customers:
“Consider imaginative, rate and package development strategies,” said Jerry Morrison, the report’s author. “Study your guest history to determine the purpose of their visit to your property. Identify competition so marketing efforts are not misdirected.”
The UAE, however, insists that its hotel occupancy rates remain high. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) released the following statement: “We continue to see increased growth and are supporting the airlines to drive consumer traffic,” reported The National on October 21.
In fact, Emirates, Dubai’s carrier, continues to introduce new routes, such as the Dubai-Toronto route. “We are not opening [new] routes because of hope,” claims the DTCM). “They are being opened because there is a demand and they are flying at full capacity.”
Nevertheless, concern over the viability and sustainability of the nation’s tourism sector have increased with the worsening of the financial crisis. According to a UN report released last week, the global unemployment figure will soon rise by 20 million, leaving many potential holidaymakers penniless.
There is no doubt that the UAE’s tourism will be affected, the question is how.
Geoffrey Lipman, the assistant secretary general of the UN’s World Travel Organization, agrees: “Our view is that all regions will be impacted by the crisis, but we will not have a real indicator of any impacts until November when we will have two important pieces of information – the results for the period through August 2008 and some early indicators for travel bookings in the first quarter of 2009.”
Therefore, until the numbers are in, any predictions of the effect the financial crisis will have on the tourism industry will be speculative. The numbers we have today for the UAE come from a far rosier time.