Hotel bookings in the Middle East are rebounding from an initial chill when the Israel-Gaza war started in October, accoridng to the head of Europe's largest hospitality company.
"It was total panic in the month of October," said Accor SA Chief Executive Officer SA(c)bastien Bazin, speaking remotely at a forum in Dubai on Wednesday.
"We thought it was going to be a debacle - certainly in Egypt and in North Africa and Morocco and so forth."
The French group saw cancellations during the first two weeks after the attacks but bookings have been recovering, he said.
"It's [the impact of the war] been very, very short-lived," Bazin said of the travel-booking freeze. "The occupancy we have today in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Cairo, and many other places has been very, very strong." Accor runs dozens of hotel brands including Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel and Ibis.
In Dubai, where the festive season kicked with COP28, hotel occupancy has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, industry experts said.
Other areas affected
Closer to the war's center, executives say business in the region is still down.
"Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon just went off a cliff," said Chris Hartley, CEO of the Global Hotel Alliance, which includes dozens of brands such as Anantara, Kempinski, Leela, Nikki Beach and Viceroy.
"Basically from mid-October until now, have seen very, very low occupancies into those markets."
With many flights scrapped in and out of Israel, airlines said business would decline, though often in single-digit percentages.