Hotels woo Gulf tourists

This is the second part of the Summer Offers special feature highlighting the discounts and incentives offered by the hospitality industry to tap the annual holiday exodus.
The Al Bustan Residence Hotel Apartments in Dubai is offering a room and wheel deal this summer.

Hotels and airlines throughout the region have launched a raft of promotions and incentives and combined with local tourism authorities to tap into the growing intra-Gulf tourism market.

Discounts of up to 50 per cent and special all-inclusive packages by major hotels and related hospitality industry outlets have placed emphasis on Gulf and Arab tourists with added focus on families.

Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi Arabia have launched special nationwide promotions while other regional states are relying on individual promotions to grab a slice of the annual summer exodus.

The popular Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) kicked off this year with a record 76 hotels and hotel apartments taking part in an innovative "Dubai for Free" campaign during the event.

The promotion offers visitors an extra-night free stay on every three nights bookings during this year's DSS.

The package has been designed by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

DTCM's manager for heritage sites and events, Awadh Al Seghayer, said that 61 hotels and 15 hotel apartments of different star ratings will be offering the discounted room tariffs until August 31.

A total of 48 hotels and 11 hotel apartments offered this package during last year's DSS.

Discounted room rates in the promotion vary between Dh100 ($27) and Dh450 and are available to visitors from the GCC countries.

Bahrain has launched a summer bonanza promotion aimed at wooing Arab visitors from the Gulf and other Middle Eastern states.

The Bahrain Summer Bonanza 2001 was launched by the island's tourism authorities in association with the five-star hotels in the country and will be backed by a BD200,000 ($552,456) marketing campaign.

Six of the five-star hotels will offer accommodation at reduced rates from BD30 per night during the two-month bonanza period, starting July 1.

Participating hotels include the Diplomat Radisson SAS, Gulf Hotel, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Le Royal Meridien, Regency Inter-Continental and Sheraton.

In Saudi Arabia, many of Jeddah's more than 120 hotels, including five and four star properties, are offering discounts on room tariffs besides substantial savings on dining and other attractions during the six-week-long Jeddah 22 Festival.

While Oman has no nationwide promotion, the annual Khareef Festival beginning July 15 in the Dhofar region is expected to draw thousands of tourists from within the Sultanate and neighbouring GCC states, specially UAE.

Hotels in the area have launched comprehensive packages to lure visitors and expect to report a full season when the festival ends on August 31.

Besides the officially sponsored efforts, major international hotel chains have launched their own promotions to keep their beds and beaches full this summer.

Special emphasis this year is on Gulf and Arab families with hotels and resorts throughout the region offering complimentary stays for children and a host of activities to keep their young visitors busy while their parents relax. Discounts on room tariffs have been further sweetened with a range of incentives including room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, airport and shopping transfers and other value added benefits.

Bass Hotels and Resorts are offering attractive summer options including weekend getaways through their Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn properties throughout the Middle East and the world.

Radisson SAS group, which operates six hotels in the region, is offering special family packages to guests "to savour five-star hospitality at rock-bottom prices".

A Hilton For Free promotion covering selected Hilton properties throughout the world offers up to three free additional nights stay.

The Le Meridien luxury hotel group is offering a passport to a great holiday at half the price.

The Middle East based Rotana group promises to make this summer holiday "both affordable and pleasurable" with its Rotana Plus value offer.

US-based Marriott Group is offering cool packages at its Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, New World and Ramada properties, specially in the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean.

Several hotel groups have combined with airlines and car rental firms to give added value to their packages.