Dubai Festival City NYE fireworks
A city lights up... December and New Year's Eve proved more than a timely occupancy boost for Dubai's hotels. It acted as a shot of confidence that the hospitality sector desperately needed. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Occupancy at Dubai's hotels surged in December and neared pre-pandemic levels as travelers flocked to the emirate to escape coronavirus lockdowns at home.

Hotels were 71 per cent full in December - the highest figure since February - research firm STR said, citing preliminary data. Dubai's hotel occupancy, for years one of the highest in the world, slumped to 23 per cent in part of 2020 from about 80 per cent.

Still need to catch up

Average daily rates in Dubai's hotels were Dh608.92 ($165.78) in December, about 9.1 per cent below levels from a year earlier. Revenue per available room, a measure of profitability, was Dh432.34, down 18.2 per cent.

Dubai attracts about 16 million tourists annually and its hotels were initially among the worst-hit by travel restrictions introduced to keep the pandemic in check. Later in 2020, the government established a travel corridor with the UK, which brought scores of holidaymakers to the city.

Britain removed the country from its travel corridor on Monday. Now, people returning to the UK from the UAE have to self-isolate for 10 days.