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We’re gonna need a bigger hotel…
International and local tourism is on the rise, prompting hoteliers to announce plans to open several new hotels in the UAE in the coming year.
January 18, 2011 4:47 by Eva Fernandes
According to recently released statistics from the UN World Tourism Organisation, global tourism is on the rise – and judging by the surge in tourists seen in the UAE in the past year, the Middle East is no exception to the rule.
In fact, while the UN World Tourism Organisation noted a 6.7 percent increase of international tourist arrivals across the planet (up 58 million to reach 935 million), the Middle East experienced a chunky 14 percent increase, up to 60 million with “almost all destinations” growing by 10 percent or more since 2009. Take that, recession!
What is interesting to note is that tourism figures seem to have surpassed pre-crisis levels, and that’s despite the disruption in air travel caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the intense weather conditions in parts of Europe and the US.
And, though tourism may not seem to be a particularly thriving industry post-recession, the National reports that both Abu Dhabi and Dubai authorities have reported increases in hotel guests. Judging by the almost overwhelming new supply of hotels, the hospitality giants have taken note and the industry is expecting numbers to continue on an upward trend.
Just this week, hotelier Rotana announced the opening of six hotels in the UAE and one in Qatar this year, with a total of 2,500 rooms coming online. Last year Rotana opened several other properties, including the Amwaj Rotana at JBR, Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan, and two budget Centro hotels in Dubai and Fujairah.
And Rotana isn’t alone in its ambitious plan to expand in the country. Ritz-Carlton, Rocco Forte, Park Hyatt and Jumeirah are just a few of the various companies planning new hotels in the coming year. And if speculation is anything to go buy (what else do we work on at Kipp?) Al Habtoor could be planning to build the largest hotel in the UAE (or “in the world” as Emirates 24|7 chose to inaccurately report). Should it be built, the hotel will comprise of 2,000 rooms and would be built on Sheikh Zayed Road.
Though that increased supply of rooms is sure to negatively affect hoteliers in the short term, many say the competitive prices will help attract yet more tourists, especially those who previously thought Dubai was too expensive as a destination. It’s a sort of, “if you build it, they will come” attitude.
With all the activity the tourism sector is expected to see in the upcoming years, one recently opened university in the UAE is definitely set to benefit. We are talking, of course, of the Emirates MCC University, which recently launched in RAK and offers students a chance to get a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Tourism Management. Perfect timing for them, thinks Kipp. With the encouraging path tourism in the UAE seems to be taking, don’t be surprised if you see us flicking through course brochures soon enough.