With foreign exchange reserves of US$80 billion and predicted growth of seven per cent for 2012, Turkey is also now on a par with many Asian economies, according to Nenad Pacek, president of Global Success Advisors.
Pacek was a keynote speaker on the opening day of the first CATHIC (Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference ) at the Ceylan InterContinental Hotel in Istanbul 7-9 February.
More than 330 delegates from 32 countries came together for the inaugaral event to hear Pacek set the macro-economic scene, with analysis of the economic potential of Turkey and Central Asia.
He compared Turkey to Brazil – having both made great economic progress in recent years, and both grown out of past debt. ‘I am bullish about Turkey – with half the debt levels of most Western European economies and promising growth forecasts, I believe most corporate attention in the near future will focus here,’ he said suggesting that CATHIC is provides an excellent platform for market intellience sharing and relationship building.
Dr Turgut Gür, chairman of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association, who opened the conference, agreed: ‘CATHIC is the only event of its kind in this region and we welcome this opportunity to meet and do business. Tourism can promote peace, understanding and co-operation between people, and I believe CATHIC, by promoting hospitality development can make a valuable contribution to this process.’
Grant Collier Marketing Director of Bench Events said: ‘we are delighted by the number of delegates at this inaugural CATHIC conference - we have exceeded all our expectations. We are particularly pleased that Georgia, Kazakhstan, and other Central Asia states are well represented. ’
Turning to the greater Central Asia region, Pacek also believes that Kazakhstan offers good investment opportunities, as it too is out-performing many countries. But Pacek cautioned that Kazakhstan, together with other Central Asia economies are heavily dependent on commodities, and as a result were at the mercy of price fluctuations fuelled by global commodity speculation.
Positive reaction from delegates and sponsors
Initial reactions from conference delegates and sponsors are positive. Karim el Aswar of Hodema said ‘Turkey is the perfect location for this event as the convergence point of the region, a strong infrastructure great people and excellent faciliites.’
Ayla Hayfegil, Managing Partner at event sponsor , Servotel agreed, adding ‘we have attended he International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin for several years, but having an event here in Turkey, which is in the middle of the hotel development action in the region is very welcome. This event has the right number of people to offer excellent opportunities for networking, and it will be a valuable experience for the delegates.’
Koray Yetik, secretary general of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association said ‘this is a great start, I always believed that this region needed an event like this to bring together people with a common interest in hospitality development. This is a wake up for the hotel and hospitality industry in our region, and I hope that in future years even more players, particularly those from other Central Asia countries will join us.’
Multinational hoteliers supportive
Representatives of many of the large global hotel companies are also attending the CATHIC event. Didier Martin, VP operations eastern Europe, Israel, Russia & Turkey for Hilton Worldwide said: “I am delighted to be involved in CATHIC 2011 - a magnificent opportunity for industry discussion on the potential of Turkey and Central Asia. In Turkey, we currently operate 13 hotels and are due to open 11 in 2011 - a key milestone for Hilton Worldwide. We look forward to opening our first hotel in Azerbaijan, Hilton Baku, later in the year and adding more hotels to our development pipeline in Central Asia.’
IHG’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Kirk Kinsell, also gave his vote to the region: ‘We have confidence in Turkey and its phenomenal growth. There’s a tremendous spirit of entrepreneurship in Turkey that is inspiring.’
‘We have nine hotels open across Turkey and a further six in the pipeline. Our main focus is on growing our brands in Istanbul, Antalya, Ankara and Izmir,’ he concluded.
The 2nd Cathic conference will take place in Istanbul in early February 2012. Dates and venue will be announced shortly.