Dubai: Expect bumper-to-bumper traffic and shoulder-rubbing crowds around Dubai as tourists from the Gulf countries descend on the UAE for the Eid holidays, which falls on a long weekend.
Hotels are anticipating 80 to 100 per cent occupancy during Eid and some are already fully booked, hotel managers said. Travel agents are seeing an increase of up to 20 per cent in inbound travel bookings compared to last Eid Al Adha.
The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is expecting a 10 per cent increase in the number of hotel guests to Dubai this Eid compared to the same season last year, Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, executive director of media relations and business development at DTCM, told Gulf News.
For tourists visiting the UAE this Eid, Dubai seems to be the number one destination, but some visiting families prefer the quiet ambience of areas around the Northern Emirates, especially Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, according to travel agents, hoteliers and analysts.
The Dubai 24-Hour Shopping initiative is also expected to draw more crowds from the GCC this year as trawling the malls and staying up late into the early hours of the morning is part of the culture, they said.
They said the majority of visitors to the UAE this Eid are coming from Saudi Arabia, followed by Qatar and Kuwait.
In Dubai, Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa is expecting 100 per cent occupancy during Eid and a higher average daily rate than last year, said general manager Habib Khan.
The Ramada Downtown in Dubai is forecasting 90 per cent occupancy during Eid and is currently at 85 per cent of bookings, said general manager Wael Al Behi.
Al Bustan Centre and Residence in Dubai is anticipating 75 to 85 per cent occupancy in its 640 units with 80 per cent of visitors from GCC countries, said hotel chief executive Mousa Al Hayek.
Dubai will be getting the lion’s share of the visitors, said Peter Goddard, managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting.
“It’s going to be exceptionally busy… Dubai is a market now in its own right, it has its own critical mass and unique selling propositions that people like: shopping, nice hotels, beaches and it is seen as a safe destination,” he said, adding that until the political problems in Egypt and Lebanon subside, Dubai will continue to benefit from the visitors coming here.
The Northern Emirates will be attracting some Eastern European visitors, hoteliers and travel agents have said.
The Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah beach resort and Concorde Hotel Fujairah are expecting 100 per cent occupancy during Eid from expats, GCC nationals and CIS states, hotel managers said.
“Dubai remains number one, but when you look at the investments made by Ras Al Khaimah it is quite progressive because they have resorts and their own airport. It’s very much a secret weapon for RAK. They’re there for the future. People are always looking for something away from the city,” said William Horsley, general manager of the travel division in Al Futtaim Group.
Though popular with GCC visitors, the number of Saudi visitors to Dubai reached 900,000, according to Gassan Aridi, chief executive of Alpha Tours. However, the UAE is also drawing more visitors from India.
“There are a lot of bookings from Indians this year in the five-star hotel segment… Discretionary incomes have gone up big time and Dubai is close to India,” said Sunil D’souza, regional travel director of Kanoo Travel.
Travel agents reported brisk business this Eid, with Kanoo Travel reporting 20 per cent increased bookings and Alpha Tours seeing 21 per cent, they said.
The long weekend and the 24-hour shopping opportunity are clear draws for GCC visitors, according to the DTCM.
“It’s part of the mentality, some people sleep by day, are awake all night and their morning starts late. They go to the malls,” Aridi said.
UAE residents wishing to take staycations might find it difficult as hotels fill up quickly and raise their prices during Eid, Horsley said.