By Vicky Kapur  www.business24-7.ae

Even as there were more than 5,000 additional rooms in Dubai in Q1 2010 compared with the same period of 2009, the number of hotel guests staying in those rooms declined by more than 76,000 during the same period, according to government estimates.

Dubai welcomed a total of 7.58 million hotel and hotel apartment guests in 2009, an improvement of 51,780 guests recorded in 2008. (SUPPLIED)
Dubai welcomed a total of 7.58 million hotel and hotel apartment guests in 2009, an improvement of 51,780 guests recorded in 2008. (SUPPLIED)

Quoting figures from Dubai’s Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Department,¨ website data showed yesterday that the number of rooms in Dubai went up by 12.3 per cent to 46,022 rooms in Q1 2010 compared with 40,984 rooms in 2009.

However, the number of guests went down from 1.62 million in the first quarter of 2009 to 1.54 million in the first quarter of this year, a decline of 4.74 per cent year-on-year. The year has so far seen the lowest number of hotel guests in Q1 in Dubai in three years, with hotel guests numbering 1.56 million in Q1 2008.

Nevertheless, following a steady increase in the number of hotel apartments – from 172 hotel apartment buildings housing 15,771 flats in Q1 2009 to 186 hotel apartment buildings housing 18,121 flats in Q1 2010 – the number of guests staying in such apartments has gone up by almost 45,000, or 11.86 per cent, compensating in part for the decline in hotel guests.

According to DTCM statistics on the DSC website, the number of guests in hotel apartments rose from 376,211 in Q1 2009 to 420,859 in Q1 2010, highlighting the healthy growth that this segment of the market is witnessing. In Q1 2008, Dubai had 329,406 guests in 12,046 flats in 146 hotel apartment buildings.

The number of guests in a single quarter crossed the two million mark and peaked in Q4 2008, with a total of 2,063,491 guests in Dubai’s hotel and hotel apartments. Although Q1 2009 was close with 1.99 million guests, the two million mark has since not been breached. Dubai welcomed a total of 7.58 million hotel and hotel apartment guests in 2009, an improvement of 51,780 guests recorded in 2008.

Globally, hotel guests are on a steady decline, with a recent report by Euromonitor International forecasting that international arrivals will not recover to pre-crisis 2008 levels until 2012, while incoming tourism receipts will not recover until 2013.

The report further adds that, globally, the hotels sector will not fully recover to 2008 levels until 2014. However, the Middle East and Africa region (MEA) fares much better than the global average, with MEA being the only inbound region to show tourist arrivals growth during 2009.

Analysts maintain that the hospitality sector in the UAE has started witnessing signs of a gradual recovery compared to the slump following the economic slowdown in the US and Europe, which account for maximum tourism activity.

Tourists from the UK and other European countries accounted for about 40 per cent of all arrivals in the UAE during 2007, according to Taib Research. With the decline in international tourism starting to ease off, things look much better for the country.

According to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation Tourism Barometer report, international tourist arrivals declined by seven per cent globally between January and August 2009.

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