Nine-day Eid Al Fitr break leads to late surge in UAE staycation bookings

Hoteliers set to reap rewards of extended holiday for many across the Emirates

The Five Luxe hotel in Dubai. Hoteliers have reported a sharp rise in bookings for Eid Al Fitr. Photo: Five Hospitality
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Hoteliers in the UAE are preparing for a bumper Eid Al Fitr boosted by the nine-day break for most of the country.

A five-day holiday for the public sector was announced last week, while a five-day break is likely for the private sector once the relevant Moon sightings are confirmed.

This would extend to nine days when the weekends either side are factored in, news that was music to the ears of those in the Emirates' hospitality sector.

Rise in local bookings

For pupils and staff at private schools in some parts of the UAE, the time off is even longer as merging the Eid Al Fitr and spring breaks meant a three-week holiday for them.

These factors have played a part in hoteliers expecting an even more robust performance than usual, during what was already one of their busiest periods of the year.

"During this year's nine-day Eid period compared to last year, Five has seen a significant surge in bookings, especially at our Dubai properties Five Palm Jumeirah, Five Jumeirah Village and Five Luxe," said Aloki Batra, chief executive of Five Hospitality.

"The majority of this demand stems from guests from the GCC countries, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the way, with many opting to stay in or visit Dubai before travelling elsewhere during this time."

The surge in revenue, from the same time last year, represented an increase of 30 per cent for the popular hotel chain, Mr Batra said.

One trend he noticed compared to previous years was that guests were more likely to book in advance for premium categories, which has led to a 10 per cent increase in the average daily rate.

Another popular hotel chain was expecting maximum occupancy across its properties in the UAE during Eid.

"Traditionally, the Eid holidays are very busy in the UAE, with a surge of bookings from local residents as well as from neighbouring GCC countries," said Jan Hanak, managing director for the Radisson Hotel Group in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Egypt.

"With Ramadan and Eid coinciding with the prime month of April this year, our hotel bookings are significantly surpassing last year's figures. We anticipate our hotels will operate at maximum occupancy throughout the forthcoming holiday season."

Interest in bookings has risen by at least 20 per cent since the announcement of the longer holidays for Eid Al Fitr, another hotelier in Dubai said.

"The recent announcement of a nine-day Eid holiday has predictably generated a substantial impact on room bookings this year," said Thomas Kurain, manager at Leva Hotels.

"Given that a significant portion of our Eid holiday bookings typically originate from travellers from neighbouring GCC countries, our pre-booking figures have shown a marked increase of 20 per cent within the past week following the announcement of Eid holidays in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

"Extended weekends invariably lead to a surge in bookings among locals opting for staycations. Typically ranging from one to three nights, these reservations reflect a sustained trend in post-Covid staycations."

Last-minute rush

It was not only hoteliers reaping the rewards of an extended holiday season this Eid. Holiday home operator bnbme has noticed a significant increase in business from the same period last year.

"Amid the rush of last-minute bookings, this year's Eid promises an extraordinary surge, with an anticipated 30 per cent uptick compared to the previous year," said chief executive Vinayak Mahtani.

"Villas and penthouses reign supreme, catering to families from both within and outside the UAE, spanning from luxury beach enthusiasts to first-time Dubai visitors on a budget. Downtown, Dubai Marina and JBR stand as the most coveted locales."

Dubai International, one of the world's busiest airports, was also gearing up for a record week as Eid holidays coincide with the spring break.

Authorities said daily passenger traffic was expected to average 258,000 travellers during this period, with the busiest days being on the weekends.

Popular destinations

"Last-minute bookings since the holiday was announced have been predominately for staycations – Dubai tops the list with The Palm Jumeirah hotels the most popular choice," said Emily Jenkins, senior manager of product development with DW Travel.

"Following that, we have seen [a significant amount of] Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah bookings. Many hotels over the Eid break require a minimum stay of two to three nights in order to avail their best offers."

Not everyone was planning on spending the Eid Al Fitr break in the UAE, though, as Ms Jenkins explained.

"We have noticed a trend towards a longer length of stay when our clients are booking holidays for the spring break," she said.

Ms Jenkins said that, because the Eid break falls at the end of the two-week school holidays, many used the opportunity to extend the spring break to three weeks and have travelled overseas.

"DW Travel has seen strong bookings to traditional destinations such as [the] Maldives, Sri Lanka, Georgia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Zanzibar, as well as trending destinations including Poland, Kenya, South Korea and Bali."

Updated: April 05, 2024, 9:02 AM