Dubai has vacancies for plenty more hotels
Soaring visitor numbers mean Dubai still needs more new hotels, the chief of the emirate's tourism body said yesterday.
A decade of development that has seen big hotel brands from around the world set up shop in the emirate hasn’t left the market at saturation point, says Khalid A bin Sulayem, director general of the Dubai Department of Tourism, Commerce and Marketing (DTCM).
Asked on the opening day of tourism industry showcase the Arabian Travel Market whether there was any evidence that Dubai would struggle to add to its 387 hotels, he replied: “No, the number of hotel rooms needs to be more.”
“Not double... but at the moment with the growth we have we need to provide more rooms - room rates are high.
“We need to bring rates down to attract tourists, big events, big conferences - and that cannot be achieved unless you have more hotel rooms.”
However, not all of those need to boast opulent suites, and Bin Sulayem says he’s a big fan of the fledgling budget hotel sector in Dubai.
“I like it,” he revealed, on the first day of the four-day event ,which has gathered more than 2,400 exhibitors from 87 countries, including some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry.
The Dubai tourism supremo said the DTCM is a big supporter of the budget accommodation sector, and has a team specifically devoted to it.
And Bin Sulayem isn’t the only one who believes there is room for more major hotel projects in Dubai. Earlier this week Dubai’s Al Habtoor confirmed a huge $1.3 billion investment for three new hotels and over 1500 new rooms on the site of the emirate’s now-defunct Metropolitan hotel.
Guido de Wilde, regional director for Starwood hotels, the firm that will operate the St Regis, W Hotel and Westin Hotels when the new site opens for business in 2017, told 7DAYS: “It’s a gigantic project, honestly it is huge.”
“Quite frankly, for us, a confirmation of the strength of Dubai at the moment, the hotel business, hospitality business, in Dubai is doing very well,” he explained.
“Only in New York do we have more hotels than in Dubai.”
DTCM figures show Dubai welcomed 7.2 million hotel guests last year - up 11 per cent on 2010.