Riyadh hotels report higher occupancy, revenues in November

Above, the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Hotels in the Saudi Arabian capital recorded an 82.8 percent occupancy level in November. (AFP)
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Updated 23 December 2019

Riyadh hotels report higher occupancy, revenues in November

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, which aims to wean its economy from oil dependence, is gradually reaping dividends for the Kingdom’s tourism industry – one of the economic program’s pillars – latest hospitality data show.

“Saudi Arabia has seen a positive shift in hotel performance due to Saudi Vision 2030, a plan focused on diversifying the economy from being highly oil-reliant and focusing on public sectors, such as tourism growth,” global hospitality analyst STR said in its research note.

STR’s comment was hinged in particular on the 82.8 percent occupancy level in Riyadh hotels last month, the highest for a November since 2007, boosted by a 55.0 percent increase in demand. It earlier reported that Riyadh hotels recorded a 76.2 percent occupancy rate in October, thanks to the influx of visitors who attended the three-day Future Investment Initiative.

The average daily rate (ADR), or the average revenue earned from the number of rooms sold, rose 11.1 percent to 685.91 riyals ($182.68) while Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR), derived by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate, rose by almost 50 percent to 568.19 riyals.

Saudi Arabia has set a goal of 100 million visitor arrivals yearly by 2030, with the tourism sector accounting for 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product from its 3 percent share. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage recently opened the Kingdom for the first time to visitors from 49 countries particularly those from Europe, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Hospitality metrics for the wider Middle East region, meanwhile, were mixed, with occupancy rates going up 3.4 percent to 72.1 percent against ADR falling 5.9 percent to $146.47 and RevPAR shedding 2.6 percent to $105.56.

Indicators for the hotel industry in Africa meanwhile hardly moved as occupancy nudged 0.4 percent higher to 68.1 percent while ADR hardly grew to $110.95 and RevPAR almost steady at $75.60.

Real estate advisor JLL earlier reported that aggregate supply of hotel keys in Riyadh was unchanged at 14,800 during the third quarter sans new property completions during the period, although 550 keys were expected to enter the market before the year ended.

“Upcoming hotels include branded hotels such as Hilton Riyadh King Saud University; Nobu Hotel in the heart of downtown Riyadh and the first property for the brand in the Middle East; Le Meridien Riyadh on King Abdullah Road, and the new Movenpick Riyadh opposite King Abdullah Financial District,” JLL said in its report.


Flydubai launches first scheduled Dubai-Tel Aviv flight

Updated 32 min 15 sec ago

Flydubai launches first scheduled Dubai-Tel Aviv flight

  • The Dubai carrier will fly the route twice daily
  • Israeli airlines El Al and Israir are both expected to launch their commercial services between the cities next month

DUBAI: Budget airline flydubai on Thursday launched direct flights to Tel Aviv, the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight after its nearly four-hour trip, his spokesman said.
“PM Netanyahu will attend this morning the welcoming ceremony for the first @flydubai commercial flight that will arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport,” Ofir Gendelman said in a tweet.
“These are the fruits of peace Dear Emirati tourists, welcome to Israel!”
The United Arab Emirates in September signed a landmark US-brokered deal to formalize relations with Israel, the first such agreement by an Arab state in the Gulf.
With their economies hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the normalization deal, including an influx of tourists as Dubai enters its winter high season.
“The start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment,” flydubai CEO Ghaith Al-Ghaith said when the service was announced earlier this month.
The Dubai carrier will fly the route twice daily, and Israeli airlines El Al and Israir are both expected to launch their commercial services between the cities next month.
Etihad Airways, based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, has said it will begin flying to Tel Aviv in March 2021.
The UAE became only the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The two countries have already signed treaties on visa-free travel — although that is yet to come into force — along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.
Since the historic agreement, Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and agreed to forge ties.
The agreements shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalization with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.
After the UAE deal was announced by President Donald Trump in August, El Al flew a delegation of US and Israeli officials — led by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — to Abu Dhabi in a historic direct service between the two countries.
That was followed by an official visit by a UAE delegation to Tel Aviv as well as a string of charter flights carrying business groups.