Arabian Travel Market, 2017. Arabian Travel Market, 2017.

GCC visitors are driving demand in the Northern Emirates, as they accounted for more than 30% check-ins in 2017, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018, which is scheduled to take place at Dubai World Trade Center from April 22-25. 

The data shows that of the overall increase in occupancy, in Fujairah, GCC residents now make up 39% of the emirate’s total occupancy levels, 34% was accounted for in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) and 34% in Sharjah, a trend that ATM expects to continue the report said.

ATM senior exhibition director Simon Press says there are many reasons for the increase in occupancy levels. “There are many reasons. Improved transport infrastructure has certainly boosted staycations particularly from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and visitors from Oman, as well as new luxury properties and a host of new attractions has boosted arrival numbers. With the launch of a shuttle bus service between Dubai International Airport and Ras Al Khaimah, visitors can be transported to the northern emirate within 45 minutes,” Press said.

While the markets of the Northern Emirates are smaller than their Dubai and Abu Dhabi counterparts in terms of supply, they are evolving quickly, the report noted.

The emirate of Sharjah saw an increase in international arrivals in 2017, and the report points out while it’s traditionally dependent on domestic visitors, tourists from overseas are on the rise. Sharjah’s current pipeline stands at 2,200 rooms.

Fujairah on the other hand has seen its hotel industry transform over recent months with the closure of the nearly 40-year-old Hilton Fujairah and opening of properties operated by Emaar Hospitality, Fairmont and Intercontinental. In total, the emirate will add 600 keys to its current stock of 4,300 rooms, the report stated.

“Just as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have their own unique set of visitor attractions, we now see the northern emirates carving a stronger identity, supported by their respective tourism authorities, and this has underlined the growth in visitor numbers and the resulting performance of key metrics that we have seen,” Press noted.

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