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Cop28 brings big boost in occupancy for UAE hotels

The Burj al Arab, Dubai, in three of its colour phases: the Cop28 occupancy boost for UAE hotels means the city will be close to full capacity Martyn Cornell
The Burj al Arab, Dubai, in three of its colour phases: the Cop28 occupancy boost for UAE hotels means the city will be close to full capacity
  • 30% y-o-y rise in bookings
  • More than 70,000 participants
  • Dubai ‘close to full capacity’

Hotels in the UAE are expected to see double-digit growth in occupancy rates over the next month as they prepare to welcome tens of thousands of Cop28 attendees.

More than 70,000 participants, including world leaders, non-government organisations, private sector representatives, indigenous peoples and young people are scheduled to attend the 28th annual iteration of the Conference of the Parties (Cop), which is being hosted in Dubai from November 30 through to December 12.

The conference coincides with the UAE’s National Day celebrations.

“We have observed a surge in demand for flights and hotel searches to the UAE on a global scale, coinciding with the Cop28 event scheduled for this month,” said Mamoun Hmedan, chief business officer at Wego, the online travel marketplace.

Data from Wego shows more than 528,000 recorded flight and hotel searches, and a 29 percent increase in flight and hotel bookings compared to November 2022.

Month-on-month, the number of searches was up 10 percent, while the average booking value for flights was approximately $346.

For Cop25 and Cop26, occupancy levels increased across the days of the summit, on average, by 2 percent in Madrid and 16 percent in Glasgow respectively, according to figures from the US-headquartered hospitality data provider STR.

Sharm El-Sheikh, the host of last year’s Cop27, saw its hotel occupancy drop 12 percent on average compared to the same dates in 2019.

It did, however, see its revenue per available room (revpar) reach $154.

The online travel agency is forecasting a 9 percent growth in room nights for the fourth quarter, up 20 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels from 2019.

Wider events held across the country in the last few weeks have also helped to strengthen occupancy rates, including Gitex, the Dubai Airshow and the finale of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, which is due to take place this weekend.

Paul Bridger, chief operating officer of the Dubai-based chain Rove Hotels, which operates 3,500 rooms across the city and the only hotel at the Cop28 site, Rove Expo 2020, said the fourth quarter is looking “very positive”.

Bridger said occupancies had hit 90 percent in recent weeks and are expected to reach 100 percent during Cop28.

“We are confident that the city overall will be close to full capacity,” he said.

Dubai’s hotels recorded average occupancy of 78 percent in the first six months of this year, 2.2 percent higher than over the same period in 2019.