Dubai: Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already recording 100 per cent occupancy and fast firming up of room rates in what could be the best phase ever for the local hospitality and travel sectors.
In Abu Dhabi, hotels are getting the double benefit from sporting events, with demand during the F1 races being backed up immediately by the start of the football tournament in Doha.
“For the entire duration of the World Cup, we don’t have any availability for our standard rooms,” said Tamara Salha, General Manager of Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina. The same set of words are being repeated by other hotel operators in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates. The world’s football followers are landing in the UAE, flying to and back from Doha, and staying put at their hotels here.
Hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi are carrying eye-watering rates through the November 18-20 phase, with the F1 race drawing considerable attention and holding its own against the buzz surrounding the kick-off in Doha.
Standard rooms are unavailable, and some luxury properties on Yas Island are charging Dh45,000 to Dh90,000 for a two-night stay. The more affordable rooms at some of these hotels are seen dropping to under Dh1,000 starting November 21, and could then pick up significantly once the knockout matches start.
According to leading hoteliers across the emirates and travel aggregator Booking.com, almost all standard rooms in five-, four- and three-star properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are fully booked. The pricier deluxe rooms and presidential suites are still up for grabs, and these cost a cool Dh3,000 and over for a night, compared to Dh500-Dh1,000 on less frenetic days.
Last-minute surge in bookings
Sylvia Matei, the Cluster Hotel Manager of Holiday Inn Dubai and Staybridge Suites Dubai Al-Maktoum Airport, said: “Our room rates have already increased by 20 per cent compared to the previous month.”
Those wishing to book hotel rooms for World Cup action during the first-half of December are advised to do it immediately as there are affordable options of between Dh560 to Dh750 per night in Abu Dhabi.
“Occupancy at all Premier Inn hotels is already high for the World Cup period, and we are experiencing a surge in last-minute bookings as kick-off nears,” said Simon Leigh, Managing Director of Premier Inn MENA. “With 11 hotels in the region – seven in Dubai, two in Abu Dhabi and two in Doha – we’re gearing up for one of the busiest periods in our Middle East history.”
UAE’s multi-entry tourist visa for football fans
Most tourists in the UAE for the World Cup are planning on staying in the emirates and will fly to Doha on shuttle flights to check out the matches. Karim Abdelhamid, Vice-President of Hotel Operations at The First Group, said: “The UAE government’s decision to enable World Cup ticket holders to apply for multi-entry 90-day tourist visas for the discounted price of Dh100 has proven a masterstroke."
Thousands of football fans have decided to base themselves in the UAE and fly in and out for matches in Qatar.
Watch the matches in the UAE
Surprisingly, many overseas visitors are choosing to watch the games in various viewing areas in the UAE. “We have also received inquiries from the European and South American guests who are interested in staying to view the matches at the hotel itself, which we are showcasing on our Lo+Cale outdoor terrace,” said Tamara. The World Cup, which falls during the peak travel season for inbound tourists, will boost the tourism and hospitality sectors and cement the UAE as a world-leading destination for visitors from anywhere. “Depending on the geographical area, the requests and guest profiles differentiate,” said Tamara.
We see more individual and double occupancy bookings from the UK and Israel. We also see many more family bookings from Saudi Arabia.