Muscat: Muscat hoteliers witnessed the highest growth in revenue per available room in 2014 among the GCC countries, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) first Middle East hotel forecast.
Muscat, which witnessed a growth of 6.6 per cent, was closely followed by Dubai at 6.5 per cent and Doha at 5.2 per cent.
In 2015, this RevPAR (revenue per available room) growth is forecast to continue with Muscat and Dubai continuing to grow at 6.6 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, and Doha forecast to grow at 5.4 per cent, according to the PwC.
Commenting on the survey, Vijay Handa, general manager, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve & Masira Island Resort, said, "It has been an exceptionally good market for Oman as most of the hotels performed well during the summer months also, generally considered a lean season."
Statistics show that Oman's hospitality sector has recorded a strong growth in 2013, with occupancy rates rising to 77 per cent during the peak season. All through the year, the hotel occupancy level was around 68 per cent.
Muscat also posted a healthy increase in the room rate to $210 in 2013, up from $206 in 2012.
Rabih Zein, general manager, Park Inn by Radisson Muscat, said that Oman is performing well, compared to other Middle East hotels as the Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman is doing a great job to promote and increase the country's attraction and focusing on business tourism.
"This includes the development of new airports including direct flights, driving in more tourists in terms of marketing/advertisements. On top of that, Park Inn by Radisson Muscat hotel also launched its Arabic website, expanded the meeting room, offering free internet and recently renewed our Green Key certification to meet the guest expectation and satisfaction," he said.
He also said that Oman is a developing country. "A lot of future establishments and projects are being developed, so there's an opportunity for hotels to earn some business in terms of MICE and leisure.
Private sector investment in tourism is also on the rise in new destinations in Oman such as Duqm, Musandam and Salalah with several new hotels and resorts opening," he added.
The hospitality sector rolled out a number of properties in the recent past, across Oman, including the Alila Jabal Akhdar, Best Western Premier Hotel in Muscat, the Holiday Inn Muscat, Salalah Rotana Resort in Dhofar Governorate and Crowne Plaza Hotel at Duqm.
Recent statistics by National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) revealed an 11 per cent increase in the revenue for four and five star hotels across the Sultanate in 2013 against 2012.
The combined 2013 revenues of the 31 hotels included in the statistics registered OMR3.941 million ($387.8 million) compared to OMR134.5 million ($349.3 million) in 2012, registering a year-on-year growth rate of 11 per cent.
PwC anticipates RevPAR growth in all of the six featured cities including Muscat in both 2014 and 2015. The only exception across all metrics is ADR (Average Daily Rate) growth in Riyadh which is forecast to be marginally negative. Encouragingly, however, the rate of decline is slowing.
According to the first Middle East hotel forecast of PwC, the improving economic and travel backdrop has helped reinvigorate trading in the featured cities of Muscat Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Jeddah and Riyadh.
Commenting on what is driving growth, Viren Lodhia, hospitality and leisure lead partner at the PwC Middle East, said, "Travel to the Middle East is expected to grow strongly over the next 10 years, with the region's strategic location and investment in airports and infrastructure, establishing it as an important global hub. Combining this with future mega events being held in the region and an emergence as a magnet for both MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) and shopping travellers, provides for a wealth of opportunities for both hotel operators and owners."
Alison Cashmore, hospitality and leisure director at PwC Middle East, added, "It is a mix of ADR and occupancy, with the cities really falling into two camps. In the strongest RevPAR growth cities of Muscat, Doha and Dubai, we are anticipating ADR being the strongest metric.
"However, for Riyadh, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi, occupancy is the principal driver with low growth forecast in ADR's. Each city has its own supply and demand characteristics and may be in different stages in the hotel's life cycle. Whilst the supply could cast a shadow in some cities, the strong demand should continue to drive growth."
The six cities represent over 124,000 hotel rooms and have seen high levels of new supply added in recent years with more scheduled to open.