By Gavin Gibbon
Increased enquiries have come from the UK, US, France and Germany as emirate reopens its doors to tourists
Accor, the Middle East’s largest hotel operator, has revealed strong international interest from travellers looking to travel to Dubai as the emirate reopens its doors to tourists following a four month Covid-19-enforced period of lockdown.
Mark Willis, CEO MEA Accor, told Arabian Business that there has been a spike searches from international countries, mainly coming from the UK, US, France and Germany, as well as demand from local markets including Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
He said: “If there’s another location that markets itself better than Dubai, I don’t know where that is. They pitch themselves so fabulously globally and you can see the traction already with regards to forward bookings as we go out of July and into August and don’t forget, July and August are still the summer period and it’s a relatively subdued period of demand.
“I think you can see a definite impact [of the reopening]. It’s very positive and it’s great to see.”
The French multinational hospitality company operates 299 hotels across the MENA region, with 134 in the Middle East and 64 in the UAE.
Accor operates 45 hotels in Dubai, boasting 9,900 rooms in the emirate alone, through brands such as Raffles, Fairmont and Sofitel, as well as Novotel, Ibis and Mercure.
After the enforced period of closure, Willis revealed that 70 percent of their hotels in Dubai are currently back operational again. “It’s positive to see that properties are reopening,” he said.
He stressed that the industry in Dubai has greater resilience than most other areas to allow for a quicker rebound.
“If I look at business and leisure travel, people have been so impacted globally. In the 2008-09 recession, the recovery from that was 2013; the industry saw RevPar back at 2007-08 levels by 2013,” he said. “But Dubai recovered in 18 to 24 months. It’s super resilient. Dubai and the holy cities in Saudi Arabia, both recovered very quickly and I think you’ll see a similar pattern when we go into next year.”
Dubai welcomed more than 16.7 million visitors last year, and before the pandemic crippled global travel, the aim had been to reach 20 million arrivals in 2020.
However, Willis believed that the real recovery of the industry will not be felt until the middle of 2021.
He said: “Of course, Q1 next year, people will be watching their expenditure from a business perspective and those people on leisure travel will be doing the same having had a very difficult 2020 when things have been very uncertain on a number of fronts. But I do believe once you get out of Q1 and into Q2 you’ll start to see recovery and then Q3 and Q4 I think you’ll start to see things rebound.”