DUBAI: Dubai s hotels saw the sharpest drop in revenues in the Middle East for 2009, hit by the global financial crisis, while hotels in the Lebanese capital Beirut posted the highest increase, according to an industry survey.
Revenues per available room (RevPAR), an industry benchmark, for Dubai hotels fell 31 percent to $163, according to the survey from hospitality consultancy STR Global.
The Lebanese capital of Beirut, which has been enjoying its longest spell of political stability since 2005, saw a jump of 62 percent to $146 in 2009 compared to 2008.
Dubai, one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates federation, generates around 19 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism and its economy has suffered as people tightened budgets after the global economic crisis hit.
The emirate s construction boom started when it first allowed foreigners to buy into its property market in 2002.
Luxury resorts, hotels, serviced apartments and holiday villas mushroomed, drawing nearly 7 million tourists in 2007.
Weak consumer demand is expected to be a big challenge for retailers at Dubai s annual shopping festival this month, as consumers show reluctance to spend, a recent survey by Datamonitor showed.
A large percentage of the emirate s shoppers are tourists. There are no official tourism figures for Dubai.
Middle East, Africa
The Middle East and Africa region overall reported decreases in all three industry measurements, occupancy, RevPAR, and average daily rate (ADR) for 2009, the survey said.
Occupancy in the region fell around 11 percent from the previous year to 62 percent, while ADR decreased 2.7 percent to $154, and RevPAR declined 13.3 percent to $95.4.
Oman s capital Muscat posted the largest occupancy decrease on the year, down 21 percent to 54 percent, followed by the Saudi capital Riyadh, which saw an 18 percent decline to 58 percent.
In December, the Middle East and Africa region reported a 13 percent drop in RevPAR to $95, which is still the highest in the world, according to the report.
The Middle East, Africa region currently lags behind the other world regions in terms of RevPAR recovery, said Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global, in the report.
However, as the region entered the downturn later than Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, we believe this only to be a time lag until the Middle East Africa region follows the other regions on the recovery path.