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Tue 11 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Planners victorious over room rates

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has capped hotel rates during Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in response to planners' pleas for affordable accommodation during peak demand periods.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has capped hotel rates during Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in response to planners' pleas for affordable accommodation during peak demand periods.

Room rates will be regulated in the capital from November 1 to 8 to address concerns raised by organisers about the escalation of hotel tariffs during ADIPEC, which takes place from November 3 to 6.

"ADTA has been subject to concerted lobbying, particularly in the MICE sector, on how some accommodation providers are responding to capacity issues," said director of tourism standards, ADTA, Nasser Al Reyami.

"The issue could have led to a withdrawal of some event organisers from Abu Dhabi because of what they considered to be unreasonable business practices."

Al Reyami said it would have cost Abu Dhabi "millions of dollars and substantial long-term damage to our reputation".

As a result, the tourism authority consulted the Executive Council who granted limited powers to regulate and determine accommodation prices and conditions.

Al Reyami said that ADTA reviewed information provided by hotel operators on high-season corporate rates to establish robust market averages.

These figures were compared and contrasted with international benchmarks to test for their fairness.

"This kind of problem is one that most fast-growing destinations face at some point during their life cycle," said ADIPEC organiser dmg world media's business development manager David Drake.

"Demand outweighs supply and the hotels are put into a situation where owners want to make hay whilst the sun shines.

"The biggest headache for us is that our clients set budgets years in advance and sudden fluctuations do cause problems."

However, the Abu Dhabi government and venues responded to the repeated requests for help and gave direction on rates.

"This is a very positive step and will highlight the fact that Abu Dhabi is serious about becoming a major player in the Middle East's MICE sector," added Drake.

However, the move has not been widely welcomed by all hotel operators.

Hilton regional director of sales and marketing, Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean, Guy Epsom said, "I think it's a shame to limit a market because how do you do that?".

"How do we plan our budgets if an outside power is going to make a decision three months before the end of the year? It's very difficult," he added.

"It's very difficult," he added.

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