Dubai set for Cop28 hotel boom with demand set to eclipse New Year's Eve

Data shows demand is surging as official booking portal opens

Cop28 takes place at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12. Ruel Pableo / The National
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The Cop28 summit could create a winter boom for Dubai's hotels, with rates currently up to 30 per cent higher and demand for the opening nights eclipsing New Year's Eve, experts and hoteliers say.

About 70,000 people are set to attend the climate talks from November 30 to December 12 during the peak winter tourism season. It also coincides with the UAE's National Day celebrations, creating big demand for rooms.

Already, interest for the first two nights is ahead of New Year's Eve, which is traditionally one of the busiest for Dubai's hotels, according to data from hotel analytics provider STR.

"Occupancy on the books data as of July 10 already shows elevated hotel demand for that period, with 17.2 per cent of rooms already booked on Friday, December 1 and 17.5 per cent on Saturday, December 2, which coincides with UAE National Day," said Kostas Nikolaidis, Middle East and Africa executive at STR.

"In comparison, occupancy on the books for New Year’s Eve, which is usually the best performing day in the year for Dubai hotels, is at 12.5 per cent. There is no doubt that bookings will continue to increase as we get closer to the winter months."

Hoteliers in Dubai tell a similar story and will likely be able to command a higher rate.

In March, major hotel groups said they had noticed early interest for stays during Cop28 and some were already planning to run shuttle buses to the venue at Expo City Dubai.

Demand has risen further and, in some cases, rates at certain hotels are twice what they were during the same period last year.

"While specific rates may vary, a price increase of about 25 to 30 per cent compared to the previous year's rates is expected with the event in place," said Thomas Kurain, a manager with Leva Hotels.

"The average daily rate [ADR] for the previous year was in the range of $130 to $150 for our property with the Downtown location and time period.

"The rationale behind these higher rates is primarily driven by the expected increased demand for accommodations during a major international conference like Cop28."

The comments come days after a portal to rent hotel rooms for the event appeared on the official Cop28 website. Offers include a room at the Five Palm Jumeirah Hotel, which is advertised on the portal at $654 (Dh2,400) per night.

"Currently bookings for November and December are showcasing an occupancy [increase] of 200 per cent versus the same time last year across both Five Palm Jumeirah and Five Jumeirah Village, which will increase exponentially as we approach [the fourth quarter] of this year," said Aloki Batra, chief executive of Five Hospitality.

"This significant demand is attributed to group bookings associated with Cop28.

"The average rates for November and December are likely to be around Dh2,700 at Five Palm Jumeirah and Dh1,500 at Five Jumeirah Village when booked through our website.

"This is due to overwhelming local and international demand."

World leaders, negotiators, ministers as well as climate change activists and advocates will converge on the city during the event to tackle the escalating climate emergency.

Other hotels advertised on the Cop28 portal include Park Hyatt Dubai, where a room is going for $687 (Dh2,523) a night. Rove Downtown costs $286 (Dh1,050); Rove La Mer Beach $286; and Rove City Centre $188 (Dh690) on the portal, while Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road is $490 (Dh1,799); and Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel stands at $292 (Dh1,072).

STR said Cop summits typically boost hotels and summits in Egypt and Glasgow in 2022 and 2021 respectively were no different.

"High demand will lead to higher room rates as expected based on historical hotel performance of previous Cop conferences," said Mr Nikolaidis.

"Cop28 is one of many events in Dubai’s expertly curated event calendar for 2023. It is scheduled at a time when Dubai is naturally buzzing with tourism activity, especially with UAE National Day also falling on December 2."

However, Mr Kurain suggested hoteliers would be wise not to take anything for granted when it came to booking levels.

"Considering the historical trends, it's important to be cautious about the ADR expectations, as closer to the conference dates the demand and availability may stabilise, potentially leading to ADR being lower than initially projected," he said.

"However, historically, the end of November and the first two weeks of December have been a good season for leisure business, which bodes well for the hotels."

He said he expected significant numbers of visitors from countries including the US, China, India and EU member states.

Mr Nikolaidis said a city like Dubai, with 146,865 rooms, has the infrastructure and capacity to "successfully host high-profile events like Cop to very high standards".

"Foreign delegates get to explore Dubai while residents get the opportunity to engage with global events in a symbiotic way."

Updated: July 19, 2023, 9:15 AM