JEDDAH: The Middle East’s hotel occupancy rates approached 2019 levels during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr this year, according to data from the hotel management analytics firm STR.
The report highlighted near-normal occupancy levels in the region during the holy month, helping key markets outperform global peers.
Hotels in Alkhobar city, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, reported the highest average occupancy level in the Kingdom with 63.5 percent.
On the country’s west coast, Jeddah’s occupancy levels dropped during the last week of Ramadan but climbed back during Eid to 58.6 percent. With the return of Umrah this year for vaccinated or COVID-recovered pilgrims only, Makkah’s hotel industry showed improved performance, although it remains below its full capacity due to safety measures and the suspension of overseas pilgrims.
Makkah’s market of over 42,000 hotel rooms showed nearly 35 percent occupancy during Ramadan this year compared to less than 20 percent in 2020, and above 80 percent in 2019.
Regionally, Eid occupancy rates varied across key markets.
Normally, leisure markets like Jeddah, Dubai, and Sharjah would report high occupancy during holiday periods, while business-based capital markets like Riyadh, Kuwait City, and Doha host fewer travelers. During the peak week this year, Sharjah enjoyed an average occupancy rate of 67 percent, followed by Doha (65.5 percent), Abu Dhabi (63.6 percent) and Dubai (60 percent).
A separate global STR report from March said that Saudi Arabia had the world’s biggest hotel pipeline.
The research found that the Kingdom’s expected 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years was the highest among the 50 most populated countries.
“Saudi Arabia’s growth aspirations, along with the strength of other Middle East hospitality markets such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is further validation that the region continues to emerge as a global tourist destination,” said Philip Wooller, STR’s regional director. “Such growth is a testament to the strength and prospectus of the nation’s strong cultural and economic resources.”
STR data shows 73,057 rooms in the Kingdom’s hotel pipeline.
Of the total, 16,965 are scheduled to come online during 2021.
While a significant portion of Saudi Arabia’s pipeline activity is concentrated in Makkah, with 28,052 rooms under development, several other sub-markets across the country are expected to increase hotel supply by 50 percent or more.