Millions check in for less as they check out Dubai

The number of hotel guests staying in Dubai last year increased by more than 10 per cent over the previous year, helped by cheaper hotel deals.

More than 8.6 million hotel guests stayed in Dubai last year as visitor numbers rose 10 per cent plus on the year before.

The emirate's hotels received a total of 8.684 million guests in 2010, compared to 7.845 million the previous year, according to figures released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

More visitors were driven to the emirate, long considered a destination for the super-wealthy, because it has become much more affordable.

"The market has witnessed correction with the emergence of budget airlines and budget hotels in the region that has helped balance the tourist mix," said Ghassan Aridi, the chief executive of Alpha Tours, a destination management company.


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"Alpha Tours witnessed a 20 per cent growth in visitors, driven mostly by tourists from the GCC, China and the conventions and exhibitions sectors. We expect 2011 to be better than 2010."

Tourism revenues reached Dh13.27 billion last year compared to Dh12.46 billion in 2009, the data showed. But these are still down from the 2008 peaks of Dh15.25 billion, despite the fact that the supply of rooms has also increased in emirate.

"Due to the market conditions, hotel rates came under pressure," DTCM said. Occupancy levels remained flat at 70 per cent.

The number of hotels and hotel apartments increased to 573 last year, compared to 540 in 2009, the DTCM said. This meant that the total number of rooms grew to 70,955 rooms at the end of last year, compared to 61,487 the previous year.

The United Kingdom, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States were the top five source markets of tourists for Dubai last year.

Guests were also staying an average of three nights longer in the emirate, according to the data.

Several hotels in Dubai have seen occupancy levels reach 100 per cent in recent weeks, with a surge in tourist flows to the emirate driven by a combination of events, conferences, attractive deals, and instability in other popular tourism destinations in the region.

Dubai last year received 390,255 cruise tourists, up from 262,740 cruise passengers the year before.