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UAE hoteliers count on Marvel, Lego and Bollywood theme parks opening for year-ending boost

Posted by Irish Manluctao on July 25, 2016
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The opening of IMG Worlds of Adventure, which has attractions featuring superheroes Iron Man and The Hulk, will contribute to a better performance by the hotel sector in the fourth quarter. IMG Worlds of Adventure via AP

Amid sluggish summer trade, hotel operators are forecasting a surge in business in the final months of this year as visitors are drawn to the UAE by the opening of Marvel, Lego and Bollywood-inspired theme parks.

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi had lower demand this Ramadan compared with last year, affecting occupancy and room rates.

Compared to the Ramadan period in 2015, properties in Dubai maintained their average occupancy rate at 43.3 per cent, but the average room rate declined 11.6 per cent to Dh477.32, according to the research company STR. Hotels in Abu Dhabi reported a 7.7 percentage point decrease in occupancy to 46 per cent, and a 7.2 per cent dip in the average room rate to Dh342.71 over the previous year.

“[An] extensive supply of rooms in the market, and longer school holidays prompting families to travel after Ramadan, are[among the] reasons for the drop in the room rates,” said Samir Arora, the cluster general manager of R Hotels, who looks after Ramada Downtown Dubai and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

At the end of the second quarter, Dubai had 83,911 hotel rooms, while Abu Dhabi had 24,353 rooms, according to STR.

The opening of IMG Worlds of Adventure, which has attractions featuring superheroes Iron Man and The Hulk and Dubai Parks and Resorts’ three-park complex will contribute to a better performance by the hotel sector in the fourth quarter.

IMG Worlds of Adventure is scheduled to open on August 15 and Bollywood Parks, Legoland Dubai and Motiongate Dubai are due to open in October.

“We are really looking forward to the opening of the theme parks, and we expect to see the rush coming,” Mr Arora said.

The attractions will help more hotels to cater to families. “We are quite confident it will be helpful for us as a lot of people, especially families, are keen to come in,” said a spokeswoman for the Amwaj Rotana on The Walk at JBR, where trade has begun to pick up.

Dubai Parks and Resorts forecasts about 6.7 million visits to its attractions next year. The entire emirate received 14.2 million last year. Abu Dhabi received 3.49 million.

In Abu Dhabi, the last quarter looks promising with the Formula One coupled with the festive season, said Desmond Hatton, the general manager at Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi.

“The business is expected to pick up September onward,” he said.

The decline in room rates and occupancy during Ramadan this year was primarily due to ongoing economic downturn both locally and globally, according to Mr Hatton.

“It has led to a decline in the business travel vis-a-vis the last year during the Ramadan period,” he said. “The corporate houses are making every effort to cut corners wherever possible.”

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