Hotel room rates in Dubai increased 10 per cent to 20 per cent last year as the city continued to see strong hotel occupancy levels, according to hoteliers and tour operators.
They told Gulf News the jump in room tariffs in 2007 was lower than the sharp increases witnessed in 2006 when the shortage of rooms was more acute.
Habtoor Hotels chief executive officer Rahim Abu Omar said room rates across the group's properties in the city were on average 18 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period of 2007.
Occupancy between January and March was 85-90 per cent for the group, which owns and manages mid-range to luxury properties.
Abu Omar said an increase in the number of corporate events in the city is also keeping meeting facilities and ballrooms busy.
Rotana Group said room rates in the first quarter this year were on average 10 per cent higher than in the January-March period last year.
"Rotana's hotels in Dubai witnessed a great first-quarter this year," said Naeem Darkazally, the group's director of sales and marketing for Dubai and Northern Emirates. Occupancy levels at its hotels in the 2008 first quarter were similar to the same period last year.
"Our forecasts see healthy business trends in the second quarter," Darkazally said, adding that the meetings and convention facilities saw an increase of 13 per cent in rates in the first quarter.
Hilton's business development director Natalie Nasser said the Hilton Dubai Creek saw an increase of 13 per cent in room rates in February compared with the rates for the same month last year. The hike was 16 per cent for the Hilton Jumeirah.
"Our Dubai hotels are doing very well," she said, adding that room occupancy for the group's properties was close to 95 per cent in February.
A spokeswoman for Starwood Hotels, which manages the Sheraton and Le Meridien brand properties, said its average room yields have increased by "a double-digit figure" since 2007, but did not give a number.
The increase in room rates and charges for meeting facilities reported by hoteliers are in line with the rates being paid by tour operators.
"There was a standard increase of 15-20 per cent in room rates last year. However, so far this year rates are at the same level as in late last year," said Kulwant Singh, managing partner of Lama Tours.
He said a similar double-digit increase has been seen in charges for safari tours and dhow cruises.
Apart from a tight supply of rooms, the cost of business is also growing for hospitality services companies, Singh said.
According to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), there were 32,244 rooms in hotels and 10,113 rooms in flats serving as hotels at the end of September last year.
The number of hotel guests in the first nine months of last year was 5.1 million. Hotel revenues for the period increased 21 per cent to Dh8.7 billion. DTCM has not yet released its full-year statistics for 2007