The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to take centre stage at the forthcoming Arabian Hotel & Investment Conference (2-4 May 2009) in Dubai.
(Pictured: HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, President and Chairman of the Board for the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities).Smart investors have their sights set on Saudi Arabia and have earmarked the Kingdom as the next potential bright spot for tourism, according to Jonathan Worsley, co-organiser of AHIC, now in its fifth year.
He said that a high profile delegation from Saudi Arabia will put forward the case for investment in the country’s tourism & hospitality industry at AHIC. They will outline the government commitment to boosting the tourism and leisure sector; profile the opportunities, for the private sector.
“The launch of the Saudi Summit at AHIC is timely given the global scenario. The current situation has caused many to rethink their tourism & hospitality investment strategies as former hotspots go in to meltdown,” Worsley said.
“What we are seeing in Saudi Arabia is a continued investment in the requisite infrastructure to develop and maintain a healthy hospitality sector, from new airlines, to a rail network, and to a plethora of accommodation options.”
Keynote speaker of the key opening session at AHIC’s Summit on Saudi Arabia, President and Chairman of the board for the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, said the remit for SCTA is to train and create jobs, oversee the hotel and travel trade sector, as well as build on the Kingdom’s heritage. He said that a five-year strategic plan is guiding this development.
(Above: Speaking to CNN’s John Defterios at last year’s AHIC, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud)
“Our aim is to reawaken our culture, not to open the floodgates for unrestricted tourism,” he said. “Our mandate is to ensure that tourism adds value to our culture, our society, to our economy, and to the visitor.”
With the easing of restrictions on tourism visas, plus government incentives and investment opportunities, HRH Prince Sultan said SCTA’s efforts and programmes are aimed at developing local tourism. He said that a service sector is being created from the ground-up to cater to not only Umrah, Pilgrim and overseas tourists, but also domestic travel, meetings and events.
STR Global statistics for 2008 demonstrate that Saudi cities, though not hitting the dizzy heights of other regional gateways, are maintaining a healthy increase in revenues.
Last year, Jeddah with 71.5 per cent average occupancy saw an increase in revPAR of 27.7 per cent to US$114 with an average room rate of $159, while Riyadh had a similar occupancy figure with average rate of $244 and revPAR of $175, up 25.3 per cent.
To support the new leisure market, the Saudi Council of Ministers has approved plans for a number of major tourism projects on the Red Sea coast and elsewhere, while many global hotel groups have announced plans for expansion in Saudi Arabia.
Hilton Hotels has recently announced an agreement to develop 13 Hilton Garden Inn properties with 2,500 rooms, starting this year in Riyadh, and is also looking to bring in its upscale Conrad brand.
Fifth Arabian Hotel Investment Conference
Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
May 2-4 2009