Dubai hotels must rethink rates: expert

Roya International chief executive Ahmed Ramdan says hoteliers in Dubai need to start rethinking high prices for guests in new global financial conditions

Ramdan: hoteliers must open new markets to Dubai.
Ramdan: hoteliers must open new markets to Dubai.

Changing global economic conditions mean many Dubai-based hoteliers are reconsidering annual budgets created around September last year, however many are not doing enough to alter the travelling public’s perception of the city as an expensive destination.

That is the message from Roya International chief executive Ahmed Ramdan, who has warned hoteliers that they must do more to ensure their properties are a value-for-money proposition.

“We need to bring up the message that Dubai is value for money, it is not exorbitant,” he explained.

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“And we can do this through the hotel chains and the government needs to aggressively promote this outside of Dubai. There needs to be a rethinking of how to promote Dubai as a friendly, affordable destination.

"We have a reputation as a very expensive destination which is not sustainable, when we are charging people so much for a bottle of water or a room or a meal."

Currently airlines and hotels are “punishing” GCC residents, Ramdan continued.

“If you want to go to London [from Dubai], the ticket is 1600AED, but if you want to go to Kuwait the ticket is 2400AED,” he pointed out.

“In the Gulf we have a huge number living in the different cities, and we should encourage them to visit Dubai.

“They have a large disposable income because many are expats who like to get away for R and R. The cost of airlines and hotels are so expensive at the moment — but if they get together that is a huge market they can tap into.”

Ramdan said there was a positive side to the lower levels of occupancy in some Dubai hotels at the moment — the service levels may improve.

“We hope that telephones will be answered by hotels, that manners will improve and that surely the prices will go down,” he said.

“We should give the consumer what they deserve, which has been neglected for some time — already we are seeing signs of promotions and discounts, these are all good signs.”

To read the complete interview with Ahmed Ramdan see February's issue of Hotelier Middle East.

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