With about eight months to go before the climate talks, which run from November 30 to December 12, hoteliers say it is still too early to gauge precise numbers but enquiries have increased and some hotels plan to run daily shuttle buses to the Cop28 venue at Expo City Dubai.
Prices have already surged by about 200 per cent at some hotels for the summit's opening night and hoteliers and hospitality experts are expecting a busy time.
“Since the news of Cop28 was announced, we have been receiving ongoing queries from delegations planning to attend,” said Robert El Khoury, vice president of sales and marketing at JA Resorts and Hotels.
“There has been much interest, particularly in our flagship property of JA The Resort as it is located just 15 minutes away from Expo City.
"The resort has confirmed bookings and we are planning to offer shuttle transportation during this period to provide further convenience for our guests."
Tens of thousands of people are expected in Dubai for the summit. World leaders, ministers, negotiators and climate advocates and activists from the front lines of the climate crisis will converge on the city for about a fortnight of intense talks at Expo City Dubai to galvanise global efforts to tackle the emergency.
The climate summit will also coincide with the UAE’s National Day celebrations on December 2, and, while there are still rooms across a wide range of prices available on hotel websites and aggregators such as Booking.com, interest is starting to rise. For example, on Friday a stay in Ibis Barsha for the opening night on November 30 starts at about Dh1,000 ($272) before taxes, while the rate for the week before is less than a third of the price at about Dh320.
Driving strong demand for rooms
Rove Hotels, which has nine properties in Dubai ― including one at the Cop28 venue that is already booked out for the duration of the summit on Booking.com ― said it was also seeing early interest.
“We have started to receive some enquiries for Cop28 across Rove Hotels nearest to the event site,” said Paul Bridger, chief operating officer of Rove Hotels.
“However, we expect demand to fully ramp up during the summer period. We are extremely excited about the upcoming event, it is an amazing opportunity for Dubai and the UAE, and we believe that it will drive very strong demand for hotels across all segments, from luxury five-star properties to mid-market.”
It has already been a bumper few months for hotels across Dubai. In February it was reported that a packed events schedule and bustling tourism season has led to a 30 per cent price surge.
“While it is relatively early to anticipate exact trends, one thing is certain: the UAE’s hosting of Cop28 will prove one of the country’s most globally resonant events, and the arrival of delegates from around the world will provide a major opportunity for the hospitality industry,” said Jochem Jan Sleiffer, Hilton’s president for Middle East, Africa and Turkey.
“We are very excited at the prospect of welcoming Cop28 attendees in November, and are already gearing up across our UAE portfolio to prepare for their arrival as we put sustainability at the heart of our operations."
There are typically two main zones at Cop28 summits. The blue zone is off limits to the public and this is where the negotiations take place. The green zone, however, is usually open to the public. At Cop27 in Egypt last year, the green zone featured cafes and restaurants, booths displaying local sustainability initiatives and even areas for yoga.
Forecasting a busy time for Dubai
Sanjay Bhatia, managing director at investment banking advisory company Alpen Capital, said hotels were experiencing healthy occupancy levels on the back of the events season as well as a revival in tourism that had "eliminated any inhibitions of witnessing a situation of oversupply in the hospitality sector".
"The Cop28 summit, which is scheduled to take place during the peak tourist season of the country and expected to attract 80,000-plus, will push attendees of the summit and tourists to book much in advance to plan their visit to the country," said Mr Bhatia, whose company regularly releases hospitality reports for the GCC.
"The sector will also witness tie-ups between tour operators and hotels to facilitate ease of booking during this period of high demand. As a result, the hospitality sector in the UAE is expected to witness a rise in occupancy levels which will positively impact the sector."