UAE records world’s second highest hotel occupancy rate in 2020


54.2 million nights spent at 1,089 hospitality establishments, registering a 54.7 percent occupancy rate with AED41 billion generated from internal tourism in the UAE last year

The UAE tourism sector performed outstandingly in 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed by the UAE Ministry of Economy, noting that the sector was among the least affected and fastest to recover around the world.

The UAE recorded a 54.7 percent hotel occupancy rate in 2020, the second highest in the world behind only China, while the global rate dropped to 37 percent under the weight of the pandemic, and hotels in the rest of the Middle East region recorded just 43 percent occupancy. This is in parallel to the significant decline in tourist activity, which fell by 74 percent around the world and 76 percent in the region.

According to global statistics on tourism, China ranked first in the world in occupancy rates at hotel establishments with a rate of 58 percent, followed by the UAE in second place with 54.7 percent, and the United States in third with 37 percent. The top three were followed by Mexico (32 percent), Turkey (30 percent), Thailand (27 percent), the United Kingdom (26 percent), Spain (23 percent), Italy (16 percent), and Germany (12 percent).

Hospitality establishments welcomed 14.8 million guests in 2020, who spent 54.2 million nights in 1,089 different establishments that provided approximately 180,000 rooms, according to official statistics issued by the World Tourism Organisation and the Emirates Tourism Council, established by the Council of Ministers in January 2021 and chaired by His Excellency Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises. This brings the average stay to 3.7 nights per guest, with returns of AED318.5 per room. Meanwhile, domestic tourism contributed AED41 billion to the national economy last year – a figure that is expected to double in the upcoming few years.

H.E. Al Falasi noted, “Despite the tremendous challenges it brought onto the industry, the pandemic also created new opportunities for domestic tourism, with a surge in demand recorded over the past year, especially during the holidays and vacation season, and some establishments even reporting full occupancy. This reflects the high quality of the services the sector provides, which rank among the best in the world. Strengthening domestic tourism is essential for ensuring the tourism sector’s full recovery and driving faster economic recuperation. The UAE can benefit from its advanced infrastructure, modern facilities, and wide range of services and activities to promote itself as a tourist destination with a lot to offer visitors – be they UAE residents or travellers from abroad.”

Statistics also revealed that the UAE suffered the least in terms of tourist traffic in 2020, where activity fell by just 45.2 percent, the lowest drop in the world. The UAE was followed by Mexico, where tourist traffic decreased by 52 percent, then Italy (63 percent), Germany (69 percent), Turkey (73 percent), Saudi Arabia (76 percent), the USA (77 percent), Spain (78 percent), the UK (82 percent), and Thailand (83 percent).

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