UAE the most popular destination for members, says Global Hotel Alliance

China could 'bounce back to number one' as a feeder market this year, says GHA

Dubai skyline. The UAE retained its top spot as most preferred destination for members in 2022. Reem Mohammed / The National
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Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest group of independent hotel brands, on Monday said the UAE reported revenue of $32 million in the fourth quarter and retained its spot as the most popular with its members in 2022.

Total revenue generated by the 23 million members of the GHA Discovery loyalty programme reached $1.4 billion last year, up 60 per cent from the same period in 2021, UAE-based GHA said in a statement.

“GHA’s 2022 results are phenomenal, not only for our partner hotel brands, but for the global travel and tourism sector as a whole, with significant improvements across every key performance indicator pointing to a full industry recovery and perhaps the end to pre-pandemic comparisons at last,” said GHA chief executive Chris Hartley.

“This rebound to levels exceeding the 2019 ‘old normal’ not only reveals a bullish travel sentiment, but the true power of GHA Discovery, bolstered by new hotel brands and members coming on board.”

Spain took second place on the list of most preferred destinations, generating $31 million in the latest reported quarter.

The US, the UK, Spain, Germany and Australia were the top feeder markets, said GHA.

China, which recently lifted coronavirus restrictions, came in sixth place, but it could “bounce back to number one in 2023”, the alliance said.

International stays surged in the fourth quarter, exceeding 2019 levels by 40 per cent in the December holiday period, said GHA.

This recovery was led by Singapore, the Maldives, Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“The outlook for 2023 is incredibly positive as we capitalise on 2022’s gains … with cross-brand revenue taking off, and millions of dollars of rewards in our customers’ virtual wallets, we have ambitious goals for driving this to record heights to the benefit of members and brands alike,” said Mr Hartley.

Dubai hosted 12.82 million overnight international visitors in the first 11 months of 2022, more than 85 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels during the same period in 2019.

The emirate's 11-month performance was more than double the 6.02 million people who visited the city in the same period in 2021, data from Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism showed last year.

India was Dubai's top source market during the period, with 1.64 million visitors, up 106 per cent annually.

Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Russia rounded off the top five markets.

Last year, the UAE launched a national tourism strategy to attract 40 million hotel guests by 2031 as it seeks to draw more people to live, work, invest and retire in the country.

Dubai aims to host 40 million hotel guests in 2031 and push the tourism sector's contribution to GDP to Dh450 billion ($122.5 billion) by that year.

UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record Dh2.23 trillion last year amid efforts by Arab world's second-largest economy to reduce reliance on crude oil exports.

Updated: February 20, 2023, 10:31 AM