The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt across various countries globally. The pandemic led to the tremendous loss of human lives, a significant degree of uncertainty to public health, food networks, and the work sphere. The economics of countries across the world were shut down indefinitely.
Among the many nations that felt the effect of the pandemic is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Canceled flights and travel restrictions meant the travel and tourism industry was hit during the pandemic. The travel and tourism industry accounted for 12% of the UAE’s GDP. The United Arab Emirates is expected to bring in 280.6 billion Dirhams by 2028, representing about 15% of the country’s GDP.
However, things are beginning to pick up. The UAE economy is on the rise again, and the tourism industry has been given new life. We take a look at some signs of this resurgence:
Increase in Hotel Occupancy Rates
As the UAE economy recovers from the Covid-19 virus pandemic, hotels saw a surge in occupancy rates during March. According to hospitality data and analytics specialist STR, hotel occupancy rates in the UAE rose to 62% in March, up from 59.5% in February.
Despite 2020’s challenges, occupancy reached above 50%, which was an excellent effort in moving the occupancy line in the right direction. Throughout the first quarter of this year, this trend has continued.
A recent independent report predicts that Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) will experience the highest percentage of hotel occupancy in the region by 2021. Based on Colliers’ MENA Hotels Monthly Market Forecast, RAK’s occupancy is forecast to rise 27 percent to 89 percent by 2021 (this year).
The percentage of hotels occupied in Dubai increased from 58.2% in February to 60.5% in March, more than double that of the 37.5% rate recorded in March 2020. Data shows revenue per available room climbing by 93% month-over-month, from Dh275.30 in February to Dh329.84 in March.
Moreover, Abu Dhabi’s plan to exclude vaccinated travelers from quarantine measures come July could boost the hospitality industry. Once again, the UAE’s market performance has been exceptional.
A Thriving Economy
The UAE economy is on track to recover in 2021 despite global challenges brought about by the pandemic. It is projected that the e-commerce market of this country will produce earnings of USD 7,456 million in 2021.
A household in the UAE engages in an average of USD 2,554 online shopping per month, leading the MENA region. This is roughly four times the MENA average of USD 629 and doubles the global average of USD 1,156.
By offering discounts, cashback, and vouchers to customers, local e-commerce companies are keeping the nation’s economy growing post-pandemic.
UAE Citizens Are Wanderlust
Despite what the world around them is experiencing, UAE citizens are still highly travel-friendly. The Arab Travel Market (ATM) revealed that UAE travelers are among the most eager to travel.
But how has this happened? What have they done to rehabilitate the tourism industry of this middle eastern powerhouse.? We will take a look below:
COVID-19 Vaccination Drive
The UAE has been very proactive in vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19. The nation’s health sector confirms that as of July 2021, 70% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The industry further emphasized that approximately 15 million doses have been administered. More than 15 million coronavirus tests have been done in the UAE, demonstrating how successful the country controls the epidemic.
Appropriate Testing and Quarantine Strategy
So far, the UAE has found a balance between allowing public health to be protected while allowing tourism to resume. Quarantine is only applied to people who have come into contact with COVID-19 patients or tested positive immediately upon arrival.
Stern Approach to Guarantee Safety
The UAE reacted immediately to the pandemic outbreak with a blended civil-military response that proved effective in combating the epidemic. For businesses, attractions, and establishments to resume operations after the country reopened, the government implemented strict safety measures. Furthermore, there is easy access to information about restrictions and quarantine in the country.
Economic Support Scheme for Retail and Corporate Customers Affected by COVID-19.
With the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) assistance, the government keeps the economy afloat by making retail and corporate customers affected by COVID-19 a comprehensive Economic Support Scheme worth AED 100 billion.
Neither Abu Dhabi nor Dubai has withheld billions of dirhams from the national economy to ensure it operates smoothly and mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus.
Its pandemic responses have been among the most comprehensive ever seen in the world. In the UAE, there are occasional flare-ups, but this is more than offset by the country’s world-class vaccination drive.
Due to this, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah, and other emirates have seen a steady influx of domestic and international travelers interested in taking advantage of all they have to offer. In the United Arab Emirates, the virus was handled exemplary, and many consider the country to be an excellent model for managing pandemics.
The UAE Tourism and Hospitality Sector is Set to Finish the Year Strong
Guy Hutchinson, chief executive and president of Rotana, told The National that 2021 would be the year that the UAE sees some of the most robust travel numbers in the world.
During the first quarter of 2021, Rotana’s Dubai properties had an occupancy rate of 70% due to capacity restrictions. Its Abu Dhabi hotels had occupancy rates in the “high 80s,” according to a spokesperson.
Bookings indicate occupancy is still profitable for summer in the late sixties, although visibility remains complex, he said.
“The number of tourists entering the UAE will exceed expectations” after the key source markets of Saudi Arabia, the UK, and Germany reopen, he said.
UAE’s tourism and hospitality industry is poised for solid growth this year. While the pandemic affects travelers’ mindset, hotels must adapt and provide less crowded, safer, and accommodating cancellations and changes.