The rapid Covid-19 vaccination campaign and the UAE’s initiatives to revive the tourism sector have brightened the outlook for leisure travel, according to Mashreq Bank.
The recovery in business travel is expected to lag behind that of leisure travel in the short to medium term, the lender said in a report titled The way forward for tourism and hospitality in the United Arab Emirates.
“While hotel occupancy rates in the United Arab Emirates will gradually recover thanks to the increase in domestic tourism and the return of international travelers, business travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the future. predictable, ”said Zain Qureshi, managing director and global head of real estate finance and advisory services at Mashreq Bank.
The results are in line with the recovery forecasts for the various travel segments.
The return of leisure travelers is driving the recovery of air traffic in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, although a full rebound is still three years away and depends on the recovery of the business travel and long travel segments. – couriers, according to a Fitch Ratings June 2 report.
Economic operators are expected to benefit the most, while network airlines with increased exposure to long-haul travel will have a harder time recovering, he said.
Mashreq Bank has urged the UAE tourism industry to take a phased and coordinated approach to regain the trust of travelers as they remain wary.
“For hospitality and tourism businesses to successfully bring back their customers, achieving and maintaining operational agility in this evolving situation will be essential,” the report said.
In response to the unpredictable situation, food and beverage outlets can effectively manage inventory and avoid food waste by limiting purchases while businesses and malls can reduce the number of employees and / or hire on a contractual basis. Hotels have been urged to close areas such as meeting rooms that are not currently in use.
“It’s about keeping your staff and operations as light as possible until things stabilize,” Qureshi said.
He called on the industry to be flexible in how it allocates costs to ensure greater financial security. Hospitality and tourism businesses have fixed costs – such as rent, salaries, and maintenance – and long-term contracts.
“Budgeting in a way that gives them more flexibility and with shorter contracts of up to three months at most will give them the opportunity to rebalance things,” Qureshi said.
Restoring consumer confidence will be crucial for the return of tourists and hotel guests. This requires companies to apply and demonstrate strict safety and hygiene measures at their premises, according to the report.
“Essentially, it’s about improving sentiment and making customers feel safe, not only in principle but also visibly,” Qureshi said.
“It’s important to market safe practices from the start, but the company really needs to show the customer that they are doing what they preach. “
This can range from putting in place partitions in dining rooms to closing rooms after they have been disinfected.
Mr. Qureshi also recommended the increased use of mobile contact tracing apps for residents and tourists, citing the example of South Korea where a QR code-based entry log system has been applied to “high risk businesses” such as sports centers, night clubs, buffet restaurants and large private schools.
“It would dramatically improve sentiment for travelers while providing people with ‘red alerts’ about infectious centers,” he said.
As Dubai announced free vaccinations for all Expo 2020 attendees and their staff when the exhibition kicks off in October, Qureshi recommended extending this option to long-term visit visa holders with permit from three to six months.
“As one of the first mega-events to take place since the start of the pandemic, Expo 2020 could serve as a case study for the way forward,” he said.
“Covid-19 and its variants may stick around for the foreseeable future and the UAE really has a chance to set the benchmark with this global event. “