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Fri 22 Aug 2008 09:29 AM

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Middle East is global leader in tourism

Latest figures reveal region boasts highest hotel occupancy, room rates in the first half of 2008.

The Middle East is leading the world when it comes to hotel occupancy and average room rates in the first half of the year, a new study reveals.

The report by Deloitte & Touche shows that occupancy was 75.3 per cent in the first half compared with 68.7 per cent in the previous six months. The average room rate rose 14.1 per cent to $180.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the Middle East grew 21.6 percent to $135.

"The region also had the highest occupancy and average room rates in the world at 75.3 percent and $180 respectively" said Rob O'Hanlon, Tourism, Hotel and Leisure partner at Deloitte Middle East.

RevPAR growth continued in Dubai, albeit at a slower pace than last year - up 9.6 percent to $274.

The emirate also achieved the highest occupancy and average room rates of any city in the Middle East at 85.3 percent and $321.

Resorts in Egypt also reported strong revPAR growth, as the country becomes more popular with tourists due to the low price of luxury accommodation.

Middle East countries, including the UAE and Qatar, are investing in tourism as they aim to diversify their economies away from oil

Global hotel groups, including Intercontinental Hotels Group Plc., Four Seasons and Marriott International Inc. are expanding in the region to capture emerging opportunities, the reported added.

Dubai is investing $4.5 billion on increasing its airport's capacity to 75 million passengers per year by 2009, and plans to build the world's largest airport 40 kilometres away to cater for a further 120 million passengers per year.

The emirate aims to increase tourist visits to 10 million per year by 2010 and 15 million by 2015.

Asia Pacific had the second-highest occupancy rate after the Middle East at 67.9 per cent, Deloitte said.

Europe had the second-highest average room rate at $174, it said. InterContinental said in July that second-quarter earnings beat estimates.

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