By Jojo Dass
Dubai’s hospitality sector is showing progress when it comes to attracting visitors, due to the government’s “very liberal view,” coupled with stringent health and safety protocols making travel to this city convenient and “very safe,” a top hotelier said.
“It is definitely on the rebound,” said Colin Baker, StayWell Holdings regional director for the Middle East and general manager of Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, speaking to Dubai Vibes Magazine in an exclusive interview.
Baker said Dubai has “one of the strongest occupancies throughout the pandemic.”
“The Dubai government immediately established protocols when the pandemic hit and continue to do so, thus travellers can now come here and enjoy their visit knowing the environment is safe,” Baker said.
He said this has become a “demand generator for the businesses to come to Dubai.”
Baker said most Dubai hoteliers in July and August last year “thought that it would probably take at least 12 months before we would see a real rebound.”
“We noticed from September-October that the occupancy increased dramatically. So, we enjoyed 70% occupancy rates in November, December, January and February, which was a very pleasing and strong rebound,” Baker said.
Despite this, Baker said, nobody’s resting on their laurels.
“We are hoping that things will return to pre-2019 levels or similar to 2019,” he said. “Some industry experts are saying it will go back to normal by 2023; some are saying 2024, but we are still optimistic that the industry will bounce back here in Dubai quicker than many other parts of the world,” he added.
Market diversification has seemed to become the order of the day as staycation offers are rolled out for those in the UAE, who want to experience weekend hotel stays in lieu of travels, according to Baker.
Other markets are also being tapped, among them Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) in Europe as well as UAE’s neighboring countries in the region.
According to Dubai Tourism, the city had a total of 1.11million international guests from July to November 2020. From January to February this year, Dubai Tourism, recorded 810,200 arrivals to the city.
Baker has a wealth of hospitality management experience, taking on key roles globally spanning New Zealand, Beijing, Papua New Guinea and obviously Australia before moving to Dubai in September 2017. (Photo by Jonathan Dumas)