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Dubai retains luxury crown in bounce back

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Independent asset manager, Global Asset Solutions, looks at the Dubai hotel market.

Dubai drove a persuasive recovery after travel reopened with a combination of marketing, focusing on value, and expanding its family-oriented offering.

The region has continued to see investment into its hotel stock, building on the recent Expo 2020 event, with its reputation for luxury continuing to inspire, fuelled by the adoption of the latest technology.

Alex Sogno, CEO, Global Asset Solutions, said: “Dubai has been working to diversify its economy away from its reliance on oil and towards the growing global travel sector. Expo 2020 may have been delayed by the pandemic, but the emirate has worked to regain ground and present itself as a desirable destination for all travellers.”

The emirate reported that 1.78 million international tourists visited Dubai in March 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic visitation for the month. For the first quarter, Dubai reported its best performance in two years, with 214% year-on-year visitor growth.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “While these critical metrics of Q1 2022 allow us to benchmark our progress, we will seek to broaden Dubai’s global appeal to new and diversified market segments, and focus on encouraging greater length of stay and repeat visitation. And as we move forward through 2022, we will also continually strive to achieve Dubai’s vision to become the most sought-after travel destination and the best city in the world to live in and work.”

Data from Lodging Econometrics reported that Dubai continued to lead the construction pipeline in the United Arab Emirates with 84 projects/24,306 rooms across the hotel spectrum. Hotels opening this year include 25hotels Hotels Dubai One Central, Atlantis The Royal, Taj Exotica, and W Dubai.

Along with diversification, Dubai's hotels have also moved to adopt many of the technological advances the sector has attracted, driving a more personal and tailored experience.

A study from Google estimated that AI could contribute $320bn to the Middle East economy by 2030, which would be 11% of GDP. The UAE has an opportunity to become a key player in the new global digital economy, through its early investments in AI and are looking to contribute almost 14% of the GDP in 2030.

The hotel sector has started to invest in AI, with that investment accelerating during the pandemic.

Most recently, Sofitel Dubai The Palm announced a partnership with Quicktext, a hospitality specialist in AI and Big data, for its advanced conversational AI, capable of providing instant answers to guest queries 24/7 about any feature of the resort.

Sogno, who is attending the Future Hospitality Summit, held in Dubai 19 to 21 September, added: “Dubai developed a reputation for the most luxurious and glamorous hotels on the planet - money was no object, hotels built on land which hadn’t even been there before; a fresh start for a city which, 200 years ago, was a fishing village of fewer than 1,000 people.

“As the city has matured as a destination and started to attract a more diverse range of guests, budget and mid-market hotels have come into the region. As befits a forward-thinking region, we are seeing technology embraced across the spectrum.

“The global operators have also started to make their presence felt across Dubai, with hotels across the ratings segments. While there are now hotels across the price points, there are still some astonishing hotels in development. But for all the helipads, private beaches, and underwater suites, what makes a hotel luxurious is the service and the team behind it. As asset managers in the luxury segment, we are inspired by this ground-breaking emirate and what it can offer the rest of the world’s hotels.”

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