Middle East developments: Are they real and sustainable?

The upcoming Arabian Hotel Investment conference is organised by Jonathan Worsley, Managing Director of International Hospitality Services and MEED Conferences.He talked to Breaking Travel News about the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and why he went ahead with the event for a second year.

BTN: Why are you calling this conference - “Oasis or mirage”? What is the significance?

Worsley: This was developed by our advisory board which was held in July last year and perfectly reflects the changing landscape of the region. At this event the audience will learn what projects are real and sustainable, and which ones are not.

BTN: Why does the region need this conference? What will delegates get out of it?

Worsley: The Middle East has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and the leaders are fast tracking the development of their service economies to provide a more diverse platform for economic growth.

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Therefore the conference will allow investors, developers and consultants to seek new opportunities in the region. It will also offer delegates the chance to learn about new things from over 23 panel discussions. 

BTN: How sustainable is the growth of tourism developments and travel infrastructure in the Middle East?

Worsley: The new mega projects are being watched by the world. And the infrastructure to cope with these developments will be a real issue. There is a need to provide a reliable transport system to cope with the projected tourism growth to the region. 

BTN: What environmental challenges does the region’s travel industry face?

Worsley: According to Lyndall De Marco, Executive Director at the IBLF Tourism Partnership: “those in the industry that are able to meet the challenge of operating in a more sustainable way will avoid criticism, be looked upon with respect, gain customer loyalty and thereby compound their competitive advantage.” There is no doubt that the industry needs to embrace these challenges going forward and there are some wonderful examples of developments that are.

BTN: What kind of potential do Arab-grown brands have? How can they be effectively exported and marketed?

Worsley: I expect that there will be a plethora of new brands in the future. Jumeirah, Emirates, Etihad are a few examples of local brands going global. There will also be the continuation of global brands going local.  We have two panel discussions on this topic and I think it is a fascinating area.

BTN: You have introduced MoneyTalk Live, what is it? How long will investment in the region last?

Worsley: Moneytalk Live is a way for developers to meet with lending sources which we hope will be an important part of the conference and future events. How long the upward trend will last is anyone’s guess. But be rest assured, it will be cyclical. 

BTN: Hotel groups are now targeting budget travellers. How will it evolve?

Worsley: We have a session on “The Future of Economy Lodging” with the likes of Accor, InterContinental, Rotana and easyGroup participating.  Each of these groups has a significant roll out plan in this sector and there is certainly a gap in the market to be exploited.

BTN: You are focusing on upcoming destinations such as Egypt and Abu Dhabi, what are destinations and tourism dependent on?

Worsley: There are plenty of destinations developing their economies to allow for tourism but it all evolves around airlines or supply-led demand. It is interesting to see Etihad and Qatar Airways making a major push for customers and in turn we have seen a major hotel boom in both Abu Dhabi and Doha. Morocco is also interesting with the advent of low-cost airlines breaking into this market from Europe.

BTN: Do you think Middle East destinations have to go beyond the sand, sea and cultural formula? For instance we have already seen event tourism booming.

In my view this is just the beginning! Economies in the region are just catching-up to more mature destinations and there is everything to play for.

Go to: http://www.arabianconference.com for more information
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