According to Ernst & Young Middle East hotel benchmark survey, the occupancy rate in Beirut’s 4- and 5-star hotels slipped to 18% by December 2020, down from last year’s registered 68% during the same period.
In particular, the hotels are suffering the most from the compound crises that have afflicted Lebanon since late 2019. With a severe economic and financial crisis in addition to the measures accompanying the Covid19 spread, full recovery for the tourism and hospitality sector remains difficult. The strict lockdown in Lebanon and the region, including hotels restaurants and pubs, constituted a blow to the sector in Lebanon. As a result, the number of arrival to Beirut airport recorded a reduction by 72.62% by the year of 2020, compared by last year.
On a monthly performance, Beirut occupancy rate witnessed an increase in occupancy rate, and recorded an uptick of 10 percentage point (pp) in December 2020 compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, the average room rate has increased by 134.4% from $92 in December 2019 to $216 in December 2020, which led to a RevPAR growth of 210.6% during the same period. In actual fact, the government decision that forces the inbound travelers to quarantine at hotels increased the average room rates, not to mention that the increase is inflated by valuing the room rates at the official exchange rate of LBP 1,500 per USD.
On a regional level, the occupancy rates in Dubai overall fell by 30.4 pp year-to-dates (YTD) to 46%. By the same token, the Average room rate and Room yields fell by 11.5% and 46.8% to stand at $197 and $90, respectively by December 2020. Further, the slump in Dubai’s hospitality sector is largely attributed to the COVID-19 disruptions.
In its turn, Madinah in KSA witnessed notable drops across the board. The city’s hotel occupancy rate decreased by 33.2 pp YTD to 31% by December 2020. Accordingly, the Average room rate and Rooms yield fell by 28.4% and 65.6% to $114 and $35, respectively, over the same period. In fact, Madinah’s hospitality sector has suffered the most due to entry restrictions for pilgrims to the Holy Mosque.
The hospitality sector in Lebanon is no longer able to withstand any more blows. Hit by the combined crisis of the Beirut Port explosion and the political conflicts, the sector is severely affected. Moreover the tourists, especially the Gulf ones, are avoiding the country even before the pandemic. However, the Arab tourists historically made up the bulk of the tourists in Lebanon, and with their absence and no expectation for their returns any time soon, the sector is not expected to improve in the upcoming period.
Yearly Occupancy Rates in Beirut’s 4-&5-Star Hotels
Source: EY, BLOMINVEST