New rooms cut profits for NCTH

Hotel owner hit by lower rates and occupancy levels

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Increased competition in the capital's hotel industry trimmed earnings for the owner of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi by 33 per cent for the second quarter. The National Corporation for Tourism and Hotels (NCTH) yesterday said net profit in the latest quarter fell to Dh27.4 million (US$7.4m) from Dh41m in the same quarter last year."The drop in profit can be attributed to decline in revenue from the hotels division due to the decline in both occupancy and room rates," said Mohammed Mounib, the chief executive of NCTH, in a statement on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange website.

For the first half of the year, its earnings fell to Dh67.2m from Dh89.3m in the same period last year. Early last year, there was a severe shortage of hotel rooms in the capital, pushing room prices up substantially. Since then, a number of new properties have opened, including the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, the Holiday Inn, the Aloft Abu Dhabi and seven hotels on Yas Island. The emirate sees new high-quality hotels as part of the process of building itself up as a tourist destination.

The capital has about 17,500 hotel and hotel apartment rooms compared with about 12,500 at the same time last year, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. Guest numbers increased by 14 per cent in May compared with the same month last year, it said. But given the increase in hotels, that growth in guest numbers was not yet enough to shore up occupancy levels. Data from the research firm STR Global show hotel occupancy in the capital fell by 23.8 per cent to 54.9 per cent in the first six months of the year, while average room rates dropped by 29.2 per cent to $157.41.

NCTH owns the Al Ain InterContinental hotel and owns and operates the Dhafra Beach Hotel. It also has a 50 per cent stake in the National Transportation Company, which owns and operates taxis and buses. It is a partner in the Nareel Island Development Company, which is developing a residential and resort complex on Nareel Island in Abu Dhabi.