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How Pope Francis boosted hotel rates in Abu Dhabi

The historic visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi provided a major boost for hoteliers in the UAE capital, according to latest figures released by analysts STR.

Average daily rates (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) showed significant increases in February of 31.6 percent and 29.1 percent respectively compared to the year-earlier period, STR’s preliminary February 2019 data showed.

Based on daily data from February, Abu Dhabi reported a 9.3 percent rise in supply and a 7.2 percent rise in demand, resulting in a 1.9 percent drop in occupancy to 79.2 percent.

STR analysts noted the year-over-year increases in ADR and RevPAR were mainly driven by Pope Francis’ visit to Abu Dhabi which took place between February 3-5 and the 2019 International Defence Exhibition & Conference (February 17-21).

During his visit, Pope Francis held a public mass for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at an Abu Dhabi stadium.

The pope waved at an enthusiastic crowd carrying Vatican flags and banners as he drove into Zayed Sports City Stadium, where an altar with a large cross was set up for the unprecedented open-air service in a country where worship is normally allowed only inside churches.

The UAE borders Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, but unlike its larger neighbour, which outlaws all non-Muslim places of worship, Abu Dhabi allows Christians among its large migrant workforce to practise their faith.

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