As Saudi Arabia moves into the spotlight, spending heavily on transport infrastructure to support tourism sector with GDP contribution set to reach US$14.9 billion this year, industry leaders at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2012 (AHIC) will be discussing opportunities in the region.
Flush with petrodollars, with oil prices consistently above $120 a barrel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have all embarked on aggressive hotel and transport development programmes as they seek to diversify their economies away from oil and boost revenues from the tourism sector.
The direct contribution of travel and tourism to Saudi Arabia’s GDP is expected to reach US$14.9 billion, or 2.9% in 2012, up from US$10.4 billion in 2009, or 2.7%, at the peak of the financial crisis, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
“Specifically hotel revenues in Saudi Arabia are growing steadily despite the looming recession in Europe. There is ample liquidity and business in Saudi Arabia so we see Saudi Arabia as a key hotel investment destination,” commented Amro Nahas, Executive Director – Head of Real Estate, Shuaa Capital Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom is focusing its efforts on providing the necessary travel infrastructure to boost religious, business and domestic tourism and is spending more than $500 million on expanding its existing airports and is planning a new US$7 billion airport in Jeddah.
Speakers at this year’s event focusing on Saudi Arabia include Moustafa Said, Senior Associate, Clyde & Co; Bani Haddad, Vice President, Middle East & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group; Samir Baidas, Senior Vice President – International Lodging Development, Marriott International and Mohammed Arkobi, VP and Managing Director, Saudi Arabia, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, organiser MEED Events in partnership with Bench Events has put together a three-day programme designed to explore the outlook for hotel investment in the Middle East’s changing landscape.
As well as focusing on the Middle East’s investment landscape after the Arab Spring, AHIC is holding a session that looks at the issues facing Egypt.