Al Habtoor has restarted work on a multimillion-dollar hotel development on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah after the project stalled three years ago when the economic downturn hit the emirate. The Dh1 billion (US$272.2m) 330-room property is expected to open in 2013. "Now we think it is the right time to start," said Khalaf Al Habtoor, the chairman of Al Habtoor Group. "There are a lot of visitors to the country. The tourism to the country is increasing from all over the world." The announcement follows Nakheel's launch last week of a townhouse development off the "trunk" of the Palm Jumeirah. Work originally started on the Habtoor Island Resort and Spa in 2007, but it was put on hold the following year, the company said. "We did the piling, the excavation, but afterwards we stopped," said Mr Al Habtoor. Some changes have been made to the original design of the luxury hotel that will be managed by "one of the most luxurious international hotel brands", the company said. Thirty five-star hotels were originally planned for the Palm Jumeirah island, with 14,000 rooms. But most were put on hold or cancelled as the property market soured. Now some signs of improvement are emerging with the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray opening on the island at the beginning of this year and a One&Only resort opening at the end of last year. Last week, Nakheel, the island's master developer, said it would start work on building the first new houses to be announced on the Palm in the past three years. Occupancy levels and average rates at hotels in Dubai are up on last year, partly because of unrest elsewhere in the region, which has meant tourists have favoured Dubai. "In general the hotel market is looking slightly better," said Harjinder Singh, a hotel consultant at CB Richard Ellis. "It has definitely picked up a bit compared to what it was last year. "The challenge with the Palm obviously is once all these properties come up, there will be a very stiff competition between these properties," said Mr Singh.