Abdin Nasralla, project consultant for Meydan Group, has been named president of the first Arab Council of Hotels & Resorts.
Here Breaking Travel News sits down to discuss the ambitions of the project ahead of its launch later this year.
Breaking Travel News: Could you bring our readers up to date with the role of the Arabic Council for Hotels & Resorts? What are its principal ambitions?
Abdin Nasralla: The Arab Council for Hotels & Resorts aims to promote Arab hospitality, create an Arab hospitality standard with a rating system and create a closed network membership for hotels to share statistics, purchasing power, reservation systems and human resources programmes.
The body also seeks to promote the Arab world as a destination, drive cross tourism between countries, encourage new tourism investment opportunities and support Arab countries in their search for in international recognition.
BTN: When will the body begin operations? How will its success be measured?
AN: The Arab Council for Hotels & Resorts has been announced and is currently in setup phase.
We aim to finalise the appointment of the board of directors shortly. Given the magnitude of the project and the wide scope - covering 22 countries, including thousands of hotels and millions of employees – we are moving as quickly as possible. As the saying goes ‘measure twice; cut once’.
We are putting a great effort to be fully operational in a few months.
AN: Our success will be measured by the number of member hotels and chains which participate; we are confident that management companies will seek this membership without hesitation; to take advantage of the offerings and market advancement.
BTN: Do you feel the support offered by the governments of the Middle East to the tourism sector is a significant factor in its continued growth.
AN: Absolutely; tourism plays an important role in the Arab world.
We contribute significantly to employment, supply chain, and foreign direct investment as an industry.
Tourism must continue to be supported by the governments to see growth in the coming years.
BTN: Which destinations in the Middle East do you see having the greatest impact on tourism over the next decade?
AN: The next decade will be interesting to watch; tourism will play an increasingly important role in the Arab economies.
We see Dubai and Abu-Dhabi in the forefront of the race; North Africa will definitely see good years ahead as a result of the continued projects and the beautiful beaches.
Saudi will be a winner and a leader in family internal tourism. The Levant area is also promising given the political situation stabilises.
BTN: What challenges do you see for tourism in the Middle East in the post Arab Spring environment?
AN: The main challenge is stability in the region, along with innovation in the available products and maintaining a healthy room rate.
These are our main concerns for the short term.
We hope to create workshops and seminars in order to address these challenges.
Interview: Chris O’Toole