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Trump travel ban has hurt business, says top Dubai hotelier

President Donald Trump's travel ban and the "drastic changes" his administration has introduced in his first four months as president has hurt business at United Arab Emirates-based luxury hotel and lifestyle group H'Mark Hospitality, says the company's chief executive.

"At the business volume basis, we've taken a hit," H'Mark Hospitality CEO Alexander Bohnekamp told CNBC in an interview in Dubai when asked about the impact of the White House's travel and laptop bans.

"We don't have to over-worry, but we have to be extremely conscious on how to deal with those travel issues," he said.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations; Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan, from entering the United States for 90 days.

U.S. courts blocked the order, but Trump responded by issuing a second travel ban six weeks later, excluding Iraq from the list. The second executive order also faced a setback in the courts.

The hotel group's CEO said he expected the "hype" over the travel ban to dissipate in the near future while adding that the one saving grace for his company is that the United States is not the firm's primary target market, "should this continue for far too long."

Jenny Matthews | In Pictures | Getty Images

The Trump administration also introduced a ban on passengers bringing electronic devices larger than a smartphone on board to flights traveling to the US in late March. The measure applied to passengers flying from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Guardian reported that the White House was also considering applying the ban to passengers flying from UK airports to the United States.

In response to the bans, Dubai-based Emirates Airline has cut its US-bound flights by 20 percent.

Disrupting Hospitality

H'Mark Hospitality is pursuing opportunities to broaden its portfolio of luxury boutique hotels further with residential apartments, office towers, resorts, and wellness and leisure centers.

"We like to consider ourselves a delighter when it comes to the guest, to keep it simple and create those special experiences in each of our properties and step away from 'cookie-cutterism'."

In 2009, H'Mark opened its flagship property on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The group added the H Resort Beau Vallon Beach in the Seychelles to its portfolio in 2015. The CEO told CNBC the firm is working on 19 projects over the next two years. "We want to be the most interesting property in every location," he said.

Speaking about the health of Dubai's local hotel market amid growing concerns of over-capacity, Bohnekamp said the city seemed to "rebound constantly."

A recent study from EY in its February MENA Hotel Benchmark Survey showed that Dubai hotels had the highest occupancy in the region at more than 89 percent, a four percent increase over last year. Across the UAE, including the capital city of Abu Dhabi, hotels saw an increase in revenue per average room.

In spite of the White House's policy, the H'Mark Hospitality chief was optimistic in his outlook. "[I'm] not too worried about what comes next," he said, adding that President Trump's disruptive style of leadership was not all bad.

"We see ourselves as a disruptor. We will come to terms with a new set of rules, so we're not worried."