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Breaking Travel News interview: Worsley outlines plans for AHIC 2014

Breaking Travel News interview: Worsley outlines plans for AHIC 2014

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive of Emirates, is gearing up for its annual two day programme from May 4th at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

More than 550 delegates have registered for this year’s event and here Phil Blizzard speaks to organiser Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, about what they can expect from AHIC 2104.

Jonathan Worsley: Well, given it is our tenth year we’re going to be looking at the current landscape and a decade of hotel investment, and trends ahead. What’s going – what’s on the landscape.

Breaking Travel News: Yeah, if I – I mean I think I’ve been to every single one. It started off a bit slow then there was a huge boost with so much investment opportunities. Then, of course, the crash came, dropped off, but things are picking up now by all accounts.

JW: Exactly. Exactly, and you’re absolutely right.

I mean our peak year for this conference when we had 1,000 delegates, it was in 2008.

But this year really seems to be – we’re getting, you know, back on track, and trends are of interest from around the world. And, yes, the onuses are looking good for the event.

BTN: So, as you say looking at the current landscape, reflecting back a little bit, and you’re introducing a few new sessions, and a few key – new key topics. What can we expect this time?

JW: We’ve got some fabulous sessions going on this year.

And we’re playing around with Present-Your-Project. So that’s all about allowing delegates to present their project, if they’ve got an investment that they want to present, or looking for operators or, indeed advisors, what have you.

So we’ve got that session.

BTN: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an important country which has got projections of huge growth for tourism and hospitality. So what will be the aspect of KSA at this conference?

JW: Well outside of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia is certainly our next biggest market in terms of delegates at the conference, and we’ve been really working hard to engage with the Saudi markets and they are one of our main sponsors, as well, at the conference.

So we’re delighted to – to really engage with this community who are looking to invest in our sector.

BTN: One of the key aspects of the conference is the nomination, or an award going to a key person from this industry, and there have been some really notable names in the past. From His Highness Ahmed bin Saeed, I imagine, to Gerald Lawless. Can you give us some indication who might be getting this big achievement in 2014?

JW: Yes indeed, we’ve – we’re delighted that we’ve got His Royal Prince Sultan who is chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and &, as our Leadership Award this year.

Watch the interview below:

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The event comes at an exciting time for Dubai, with both World Travel Awards and Arabian Travel Market joining AHIC in welcoming industry leaders to the Emirate over the next few days.