Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

Manama skyline: The hotel sector has been under pressure due partly to the impact of low oil prices and geopolitical risks. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 September 2018

Hajj season boosts Middle East hotel demand in August

  • Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent
  • The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night

LONDON: Demand for hotel rooms across the Middle East leapt last month providing welcome relief for an industry that has been grappling with an oversupply of hotel accommodation, new data showed.
Occupancy rates — a measure of the proportion of available rooms sold — in the region jumped to 63.4 percent from 62.1 percent, according to data provider STR’s research published on Sept. 24.
The average daily room rate — another key industry metric — increased 12.2 percent to reach close to $170 per night, while revenue per available room (RevPar) increased by 14.5 percent to reach $107.50.
The region’s hotel sector has been under pressure due partly to the impact of low oil prices and geopolitical risks, resulting in a slump in room revenue and occupancy as supply exceeded demand.
“It is true in the broader sense that we have been seeing a softening of market-wide RevPar levels in the hospitality sector across most major cities within the GCC countries,” said Ali Manzoor, partner, hospitality and leisure at property consultancy firm Knight Frank.
Analysts have blamed the year-on-year uptick in August on the earlier Hajj season and Eid Al-Adha holiday, rather than indicative of a change in outlook for the sector.
“The spike in occupancy levels in August was largely attributable to differences between the Gregorian and Hijri calendars,” Manzoor said.
This year, the pilgrimage period took place in August, helping to boost the industry’s performance that month. “It is therefore reasonable to expect hotels to underperform in the month of September in relation to last year,” he said.
Looking at data for the year-to-date, the UAE retains the highest occupancy rate in the Gulf region at 72.2 percent, though this represents a slight decline of 0.8 percent compared to the same time period last year, according to STR data.
Saudi Arabia’s occupancy levels stood at 58.1 percent year-to-date, marginally up by 0.2 percent on last year.


HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

Updated 24 min 36 sec ago

HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

  • HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber
  • The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management

PARIS/LONDON: HSBC France said on Wednesday its teams will leave a prestigious headquarters on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue by 2020 in an emblematic move ahead of the planned sale of its retail business in the country.
The exit and planned sale, following a strategic review of the group's French retail activities, are part of a broader cost-cutting effort under interim Chief Executive Noel Quinn.
"HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber, 500 meters away from its actual headquarters that was sold in 2010," the bank said in a statement.
The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
Another 500 employees will be moved to HSBC's hub in La Defense business district which now houses 4,000 of the bank's employees and to branches close to the Champs Elysees building.
HSBC France sold its headquarters at 103 avenue Champs Elysees, and a building in front of it at 15 rue Vernet, to Qatari investors and has rented them since then.
The move is necessitated because the owner wants to regain control of the buildings and also because HSBC needs to save money, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Office rents in Paris are rising to levels not seen since at least 2003, according to Immostat data, as vacancy rates are at record lows.
HSBC inherited the historic headquarters when it bought the French retail operations of Crédit Commercial de France (CCF) in 2000.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building was a hotel where World War One spy and exotic dancer Mata Hari was arrested.
HSBC Holdings has hired U.S. investment bank Lazard Ltd to sell its French retail business, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
Quinn is expected to unveil the first details of his strategic overhaul of the bank when it reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 28.
Quinn is auditioning for the full-time CEO job and insiders said he is under pressure to take decisive action after Chairman Mark Tucker indicated his predecessor John Flint had not moved quickly enough to turn around the lender's performance.