Skift Take

Even as global hotel development may have slowed down due to serious risks looming over the economy, the hospitality sector's development of Gulf nations remains robust. The nations realize offering choice is essential for people to visit a destination.

The Gulf region now has more than 170,000 hotel rooms under active development, which includes planning, final planning and under construction, according to research conducted at the end of September by STR, a hotel market intelligence and global benchmarking company. This active hotel development pipeline now equals 40 percent of the Gulf region’s existing hotel room inventory, a figure almost four times greater than the global average of 11 percent. The STR report estimates 135,560 existing rooms in Saudi Arabia with an active pipeline of 82,639 rooms, with total room inventory projected for 2030, at over 218,000 rooms. Similarly for the United Arab Emirates, the research currently tracks more than 202,000 existing rooms with an active pipeline of 48,910 rooms, a combined total of almost 251,000 rooms by 2030. “Interestingly, Ras Al Khaimah, is second only to Dubai, with 5,076 rooms in its pipeline, almost the same amount as Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah combined,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director of Arabian Travel Market. The research had been commissioned by Arabian Travel Market.

The United Arab Emirates ranked as the world’s most powerful passport based on mobility and freedom from travel restrictions, according to the latest publication of the Montreal-based financial advisory firm Arton Capital’s Passport Index. Those holding a United Arab Emirates passport are allowed visa-free entry to 121 countries, while 59 countries accord visa on arrival to UAE passport holders. Helping the country reach a “mobility score” of 180. Qatar stands at 46 followed by Kuwait at 48. Saudi Arabia is ranked at 93. United Arab Emirates ranked 15th in the Henley Passport Index for the third quarter of the year. According to Arton Capital, the firm updates its passport index rankings in real time as new visa waivers and changes are implemented, showing the current effects that Covid-19 travel bans and the war in Ukraine have on global mobility right now.

German hospitality management group, Deutsche Hospitality, announced the opening of three new hotels in the Middle East within the last three months — IntercityHotel Muscat, Steigenberger Residence Doha and Al Hamra Village Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. This takes the group’s total operating portfolio to 26 properties and three Steigenberger Nile cruises across the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. The three new hotels represent an additional 770 operational keys. Within the last 12 months, Deutsche Hospitality has doubled the number of rooms within its regional portfolio, reaching over 1,531 keys in the Middle East.

URB, the Dubai-based master planning, landscape and architectural services company, will be developing the world’s largest agritourism destination in Dubai. The project is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs while promoting a green economy. In line with Dubai’s ambition of promoting its rural and wilderness areas, Agri Hub by URB aims to become a key tourist destination in Dubai’s countryside. Planned to be located in Dubai’s desert, the project looks to promote a new agritourism experience, whilst offering fun and adventurous services as well as amenities. The new hub will also feature a nature and heritage conservation center, ecotourism center, an agri-tech institute and a restorative wellness center. 

India-based carrier Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, has launched daily, non-stop flights between Mumbai and Muscat, making the Oman capital its fourth destination in the Gulf region. There has been a consistent increase in demand for travel between India and the Gulf region and Vistara’s routes in the Middle East have been performing remarkably well, a release from the airline stated. The airline has focussed on expanding its presence in the region this year with the launch of services to Jeddah and Abu Dhabi in August and October, respectively. Vistara also operates daily flights to Dubai from Mumbai. The Muscat route launch is in line with the airline’s goal to steadily enhance its footprint in the Middle East, CEO Vinod Kannan said.

Jeddah’s hotel performance in November came in lower than the prior month, but surpassed pre-pandemic comparables, according to preliminary data from STR. The market’s occupancy level was its lowest since April 2022, while average daily rate and revenue per available room were the lowest since February 2022. Each of the three key performance metrics, however, surpassed the 2019 comparable, with occupancy registering a 16 percent increase while average daily rate and revenue per available room went up by 13 percent and 31.3 percent respectively. When looking at daily data, the highest occupancy level was recorded on November 30 at 75.2 percent — the only day of the month that the metric came in above 70 percent.

Qatar Airways’ destination management company Discover Qatar is offering specially-designed tours for students to showcase Qatar’s top-tier educational and tourism resources as well as the distinctive features of Doha. The tours present a unique opportunity for a holistic view of Qatar’s premier academic ecosystem, while showcasing the culture of the country. Focusing on a range of subjects including architecture, art and culture, sports and performance excellence, fashion and design, business management, and gastronomy, the tours aim to stimulate learning for students through curated activities and workshops. The specially-designed programs are offered for five days and can be extended up to 10 days. These are all-inclusive and include hotel accommodation, meals, airport and local city transfers, sightseeing activities and a guide.

Investments in Egypt’s tourism and antiquities sector are expected to reach $300 million in the current fiscal year. The new target reflects a growth rate of 19 percent over the previous fiscal year highlighting how tourism is one of the most lucrative and vital sectors for Egypt. A major driver of the global economy, tourism alone generates about 10 percent of the Egyptian gross domestic product, while accounting for about 7 percent of international trade and generating employment for about 330 million people. As part of the tourism development strategy, Egypt’s ministry of planning and economic development highlighted the intensive promotion of the charter flight incentive program, especially in major source countries, like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as in the Eastern European markets. Egypt is also keen on early promotion of tourist destinations in Arab markets as well as promising Asian markets, led by China, India and Japan.

In yet another revision of its targets for tourist arrivals and tourism revenue for 2022, Turkey now aims to attract 51.5 million tourists generating a revenue of $46 billion. At the start of 2022 Turkey set tourist arrival and tourism revenue targets at 42 million and $35 billion. In line with the rebound in the sector, those targets were revised upwards first in July to 47 million tourist arrivals and $37 billion in tourism revenues and then in October to 50 million and $44 billion. In 2023, Turkey expects 60 million visitors and $56 billion in tourism revenues, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkey’s culture and tourism minister said at the parliament while presenting the tourism ministry’s budget for 2023. Between January and October, Turkey welcomed 39.6 million foreign tourists, an 88 percent increase from the same period last year. Tourism revenue for the first nine months of the year reached $35 billion, reflecting a 68 percent increase from the same period last year.

Dubai aims to make all major parts of the city accessible within 20 minutes on foot or by bike. The 20-Minute City Policy is part of the phase two of the wider Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan that maps out a comprehensive future map for sustainable urban development in the city. The plan focuses on reinforcing Dubai’s competitiveness as a global destination by providing a wide diversity of lifestyle and investment opportunities for citizens, residents and visitors over the next 20 years. The new master plan also seeks to provide sustainable and flexible means of mobility as well a foster greater economic activity and attract foreign investments to new sectors.

Emirates and Air Canada have expanded their partnership to offer frequent flyer members joint loyalty programme benefits. Emirates Skywards members can now earn and redeem miles on all flights operated by Air Canada — accessing a network of more than 220 destinations worldwide. Aeroplan members will also benefit from earning and redeeming points on all flights operated by Emirates — with access to more than 130 destinations across six continents, via Dubai. Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members travelling in Economy Class with Air Canada or Emirates will also enjoy complimentary access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges and Air Canada Café in Toronto Pearson along with one guest. In Dubai, Aeroplan Elite 50K, 75K and Super Elite members travelling in Economy Class with Emirates will enjoy complimentary access to the Emirates Business Class Lounge along with one guest. The carriers activated their codeshare partnership earlier this year providing customers with seamless connectivity to 46 destinations across three continents.

In an effort to become a round-the-year inclusive destination, Dubai has announced a team for accessible travel and tourism. Calling accessible tourism an important sector for the national economy and promoting the rights of people of determination to travel without obstacles, Jamal Al Hai, deputy CEO at Dubai Airports, said, “The Dubai team will work to offer a good image of the UAE to the world as a pioneering tourism with hospitality services for all visitors being of the best in class.” The team would be consulting with people of determination to get acquainted with their needs and requirements during their movements in cities and while travelling to and in destinations. According to the team’s general-coordinator Ghassan Suleiman Amhaz, tourists with disabilities make up roughly 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population, which equates to 150 million people annually.

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Tags: abu dhabi, air canada, asia monthly, dubai, egypt, emirates air, middle east, middle east newsletter, oman, passports, qatar, ras al khaimah, str, turkey, vistara

Photo credit: The 25 Hours hotel lobby in Dubai. 25hours Hotel.

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