Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in its 10th year celebrates Dubai’s substantial achievements
Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2014, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum Chairman Dubai Airports President Dubai Department for Civil Aviation Chairman and CEO of Emirates, has announced its 2 days programme, taking place from 4-5 May at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.
AHIC 2014 is going to be held in its tenth year under the theme; ‘A decade of defining the hotel investment landscape’, combining the region’s most senior hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors to discuss the growth in hospitality and tourism sectors in the region, as well as to offer an exclusive insight on the most recent topics of the hotel industry, including; branded residences, economy and mid-market products and serviced apartments.
The Conference this year focuses on the evolution of Dubai in the last ten years, which has tremendously been highlighted with the outstanding win of Expo 2020. Hotels across Dubai recorded an impressive occupancy rate of 80% in 2013, even with an influx of almost 3,000 new rooms in the hospitality market. According to a report by Ernst and Young (EY), the hospitality sector in Dubai showed the strongest performance in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region. High occupancy rates were maintained despite the addition of thousands of new rooms to the supply chain in 2013. Average daily rates (ADR) also witnessed an increase of 6.4% between 2012 and 2013, resulting in an overall RevPAR (revenue per available room) of $223 in 2013, marking an increase of 5.9% compared to 2012. Figures show a similar state of affairs in Abu Dhabi, where hotels posted a 12.8% increase to 73.4% in 2013.
AHIC 2014 has dedicated more than one panel discussion this year to discuss Dubai’s top achievements and future pipeline. The panel discussion titled ‘THE EVOLUTION OF DUBAI OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS, WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?’ taking place at the first day of the conference will discuss Vision 2020 and the plan to take Dubai from 10 million to 20 million visitors, as well as hotel investors role in achieving this vision. Speakers in this session include; Gerald Lawless, CEO of Jumeirah Group, HE Helal Saeed Al Marri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre and Director General of DTCM, Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports and Anita Mendiratta, Founder & Managing Director of CACHET Consulting.
Dubai’s hotels welcomed more than 11 million guests in 2013, an increase of just over one million on the 2012 numbers and a positive indication that Dubai is on the way to achieving its target of welcoming 20 million visitors a year by 2020. According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) statistics, revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth with total revenues up by 16.1 per cent reaching AED 21.84 billion for 2013.
Total guest nights also recorded increases, up 11.0 per cent to 41.57 million when compared to 37.45 million in 2012. Occupancy rates for hotel rooms and hotel apartments increased from 78 per cent to 80 per cent, while the occupancy rate for hotel apartments was 82 per cent, up 6.5 per cent when compared to 2012. These figures become even more significant given that 2013 saw a number of new accommodation options enter the market. The number of hotel rooms and apartments at the end of 2013 amounted to a total of 84,534 (611 establishments) compared to 80,414 (599 establishments) in 2012, representing an increase of over 5 per cent. In the current development pipeline for 2014-2016 there will be an additional 141 hotel establishments added to the market including 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments bringing the total to 751 hotel establishments and just under 114,000 rooms.
Commenting on that, Lawless says: “AHIC’s 10th Anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate the many achievements we have witnessed in Dubai and in this industry in particular. Jumeirah is proud to have been part of this renowned conference since its launch. Dubai welcomed over 13 million tourists in 2013 and the number will grow to over 20 million in 2020 which means unprecedented hotel development opportunities. Such growth will also accelerate economic and social progress throughout the entire region. This year, we are looking forward to harnessing the accomplishments of the last ten years and celebrating the development of this incredible gathering.”
Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel owned by Jumeirah Group has also celebrated AHIC’s 10th anniversary by projecting the conference logo at forefront of the hotel last night.
Another hot topic on Dubai that AHIC 2014 will be discussing on one of its breakout sessions is mid-market hotels. The session ‘SUCCEEDING IN THE EXTENDED STAY & SERVICED APARTMENT SEGMENT’ discusses the dynamics behind driving the demand for this segment and the state of the current stock in the region. It also identifies the variations in performance vs short stay the financial and regulatory implications.
Filippo Sona, Director and Head of Hotels for the MENA Region at Colliers International, who is one of the speakers on this session, says: ” The UAE Market has the potential for growth using the Serviced Apartment Business Model whose key strength is being able to change the target market profile between long and short stay to suit market conditions in order to achieve revenue maximisation. Brand strength is a strong driver of serviced apartment demand with GDS, direct bookings, and website bookings accounting for 40 percent of total bookings. A strong brand with a regional presence and strong online capabilities is essential to help and drive sales in all three segments.”
Dubai has the largest concentration of serviced apartments in the UAE, which currently account for 66% of the total serviced apartment supply. The majority of forthcoming serviced apartment supply in the UAE is expected to come to market in Dubai, in which there will be a 23% expansion of serviced apartment supply over the next five years. Other than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there is no forthcoming serviced apartment supply amongst the other emirates with the exception of Fujairah, in which an Adagio is scheduled to open in 2014. H1 2013 has seen positive growth for serviced apartment occupancy levels in the UAE. During this period, occupancy levels have increased by 8.2% in Dubai, 5.5% in Abu Dhabi, and 20.3% in Sharjah. This sharp increase in Sharjah is indicative of an improving market after years of stagnation, although this has come at the cost of the average rate.
AHIC 2014 will be hosting two networking receptions for its attendees this year, with an Opening Gala Reception on 4 May hosted by Jumeirah Group at Zero Gravity, Dubai’s newest entertainment venue, and another Networking Reception on 5 May hosted by Al Habtoor Hotels at The Waldorf Astoria The Palm.
The Conference, which is organised by MEED and Bench Events, will include key participants such as: Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Jumeirah Group, ACCOR, Al Habtoor Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide, Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development – SMIT, Accor, Wyndham Hotel Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Aecom, Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion, Colliers International, Drake and Scull International, FRHI Hotels and Resorts, Golden Tulip Hotels Suits and Resorts, Hotel Partners Africa, HVS, JA Resorts & Hotels, Marriot International, Meliá Hotels International, Premier Inn, Roya International, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), Shaza Hotels, STR Global, World hotels.
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