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.

The Middle East posted some impressive results in 2008.
The Middle East posted some impressive results in 2008.

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.

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