DUBAI: Pope Francis’ papal visit to the UAE and the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February helped boost the performance of Abu Dhabi hotels, as daily room rates sharply rose despite a dip in occupancy levels.
“The year-over-year increases in ADR [average daily rates] and RevPAR [Revenue per available room] were mainly driven by Pope Francis’ visit to Abu Dhabi (3-5 February) and the 2019 (17-21 February),” industry monitor STR said in its preliminary report.
“A jump in rates were seen during the seven-day period surrounding IDEX.”
Pope Francis’ visit saw up to 170,000 Catholic faithful thronging to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City to hear the Papal Mass on the pontiff’s final day, and hotels in the emirate took advantage of the sudden increase in demand by raising, and some even almost doubling, their room rates.
The high demand for hotel rooms during IDEX to accommodate up to 1,300 exhibitors and more than 105,000 visitors from 142 countries also contributed to higher rates during the month, especially for hotels near the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre venue.
For the month, ADR – the average price or rate for each hotel room sold for a specific day – rose 31.6 percent over the year to $153.86 (565.07 dirhams) while RevPAR – or the ADR multiplied by occupancy rate – went up 29.1 percent to $121.84 (447.46 dirhams).
The February occupancy rate slipped 1.9 percent to 79.2 percent as the increase in room supply (9.3 percent) outpaced the rise in demand (7.2 percent).
STR will release full February results later this month.