Decline in December but double-digit growth for year
The Middle East defied industry trends to record yet another year of double-digit RevPAR growth in 2008. But gloomy figures for December point to a rocky start in Q1, 2009.
Despite slipping performance in Q4 and the effect of currency exchange volatility, Middle East hoteliers finished the year with double-digit growth figures.
According to data from global benchmarking firm STR Global, occupancy for the year was up 0.7% to 70.2%, average rates were up 16.2% to US $157.6 and RevPAR jumped 17% to $110.
This figure was the highest for any region measured in the study, with Asia Pacific hoteliers posting results of $90.69 (a 1.8% increase on 2007), Americas-based hoteliers achieving $65.86 (a 1.4% drop on 2007) and European hoteliers up 1.8% to finish with RevPAR of $104.23.
Individual cities were still recording strong numbers across the Middle East despite the messages of doom and gloom in the media.
Egypt-based hoteliers recorded RevPAR levels up 21.3%, finishing on EGP 330.99, with the result largely driven by a 15.9% hike in rates.
Hoteliers in Saudi Arabia also rode a strong increase in rates (up 17%) to finish with a RevPAR gain of 19% above 2007 figures.
UAE-based hoteliers saw a softening in occupancy levels, down by 2.3%, but were able to make up enough of the shortfall in rates to still post a 8.3% growth in RevPAR for the year, finishing on AED 813.94.
The figures were not so good for the Middle East region comparing December results year-over-year however.
Occupancy was down 10% to 58.5%, average rates strengthened slightly to $170.56 and RevPAR softened 7% to $100.21.
While the cities in the study managed to preserve rates, occupancy was down: Egypt posted an 11% loss, Saudi Arabia was down 11.9% and the UAE finished 15% below December 2007 levels.