Bench Events has welcomed the successful hosting of the Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference in Riyadh.
The one-day event, held at the Marriott Convention Centre, Riyadh Marriott Hotel, is the precursor to the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and focuses on the hospitality sector in the rapidly developing Saudi market.
More than 300 high-level delegates were in attendance for the event, which was hosted under the patronage of his royal highness prince sultan Bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage.
Also in attendance was her royal highness princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, chairwoman, Global United Centre for Research and Analysis.
The latter delivered an insightful address on the future of Saudi tourism, sharing insights into Vision 2030 and opportunities for hospitality investment and development in line with the government’s vision.
Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and co-founder of SHIC, said: “Having organised the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference for the past 14 years, we have witnessed phenomenal interest from our delegates into hospitality investment opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Now, as the country’s drive for a more diversified economy highlights new tourism and hospitality infrastructure, we believe it is the ideal time to connect investors and operators at SHIC, with an event dedicated to discussing and debating the issues most impacting the hotel industry’s growth in Saudi Arabia.”
Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events, welcomes guests to SHIC
The conference comes at an exciting time for tourism in Saudi Arabia.
The destination currently has more than 64,000 rooms across the three phases of the hotel development pipeline, according to data from STR.
That room total represents 76 per cent of the more than 84,500 existing hotel rooms in the country.
As shown in STR’s January Pipeline Report, there are 187 hotel projects total in Saudi Arabia between the planning, final planning and construction stages.
The construction phase represents the largest portion of the pipeline with almost 40,000 rooms in 94 projects.
At the market level, Makkah is set to receive the largest amount of new supply with more than 23,000 rooms In Construction and more than 32,000 rooms total in the pipeline.
Jeddah and Riyadh are each approaching 10,000 rooms total in the three phases of the pipeline.
STR area director for the Middle East and Africa, Philip Wooller, commented on the market’s supply development: “Saudi Arabia’s hotel market is going through a period of massive supply expansion.
“In the short term, we’ve already seen this growth affect performance levels, and this trend should continue as more and more properties start to come online.
“But it is important to note that this is part of a major long-term investment for the market to further develop its infrastructure to accommodate millions of annual visitors, which come for religious pilgrimages and as new tourism attractions spring up as part of Vision 2030.”
Hundreds of industry leaders were in attendance for the event
Speaking at the event, Time Hotels chief executive, Mohamed Awadalla, outlined the importance of mid-market hotels to the Saudi tourism industry.
According to new research, published by Colliers International for SHIC, recent reforms in Saudi Arabia – and widespread investment in the kingdom’s burgeoning tourism industry – will drive growth in the mid-market hotel sector at a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent between 2017 and 2021.
The supply for mid-market hotels is expected to increase over the next five years with Makkah, Riyadh and Jeddah to see the majority of hotel openings – accounting for 54, 16, and 12 per cent respectively of the forthcoming mid-market supply in the kingdom.
Awadalla said: “As receipts from Saudi oil revenues have declined, some government departments and private companies have reduced their travel expenses which in turn has led to an increase in corporate demand for more mid-market hotels, an area of the market that has traditionally been reserved for more luxury properties.
“Our current pipeline of hotels and residences aims to offer a high-quality hotel or serviced apartment for a market segment that is currently under-represented in the region.”
In April 2016 TIME Hotels signed a deal with Saudi-based Al Fahd Investments.
As part of this agreement, UAE-headquartered Time Hotels will expand its presence in the Kingdom with the management of several new mid-market hotels.
The properties under Time Hotels & Resorts are set to open between 2018 - 2019 in Jeddah, Riyadh and other cities.
While, the Time Express Hotel in Riyadh, set to open around 2019, will be the debut for the Express brand in the Kingdom.
Time Hotels chief executive, Mohamed Awadalla, centre, offers his thoughts
Also in attendance at the event, Marriott International reiterated its commitment to Saudi Vision 2030.
With more than four decades of presence in the country, Saudi Arabia today, is the company’s second largest market in the Middle East with 23 operating hotels.
Marriott International continues to nurture a robust pipeline with number of hotels set to more than double in the kingdom.
Speaking at the event, Alex Kyriakidis, managing director, Middle East & Africa, for Marriott International, said: “The Saudi Vison 2030 makes it a very exciting time for those working in, or hoping to work in the tourism industry in the kingdom.
“The renewed focus and investment in the sector opens up a wealth of opportunity for Saudi nationals.
“Following a successful 40 years in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we remain committed to our continued support towards growth of the tourism sector.
“Our Saudi Arabia growth plan along with the implementation of our programs that aim to foster local talent underpins this collaborative approach.”
Marriott International’s future growth strategy is testament to the kingdom’s vision to achieve a thriving economy, vibrant society and an ambitious nation largely achieved by the raising of non-oil revenue to $160 billion by 2020 up from $43.5 billion last year.
Tourism will play a crucial role in boosting this revenue and strengthening the economy.
Alex Kyriakidis, managing director, Middle East & Africa, was on hand to represent Marriott International
Illustrating its support for the Saudi market, architecture consultancy SSH is further expanding its presence in the country with a new office in Riyadh.
The company initially opened a satellite office in late 2016 and will now move into bigger offices in the capital to continue to cater to a growing number of clients across the kingdom.
SSH made the announcement at SHIC.
“We are very excited to have exhibited at AHIC KSA for the first time,” said Danny Warde, regional director – KSA at SSH.
“Saudi Arabia is a vibrant, growing market where SSH has already made many new collaborations and partnerships with prestigious companies in the kingdom.
“With our recent expansion into this market, we presented our expertise in delivering hospitality projects and aim to forge new ties with hotel developers and operators,” he added.
Badr Al Badr, chief executive, Dur Hospitality, arrives at SHIC
Badr Al Badr, chief executive, Dur Hospitality, and strategic partner of SHIC, believes that the Saudi economy will witness a positive shift in the coming years when the government executes the recently announced initiatives bolstering confidence in tourism investments.
“The public private partnerships drive in Saudi Arabia is presenting new opportunities to attract investment into hospitality,” said Al Badr.
“Following the announcement of the KSA Vision 2030, a more attractive investment environment is opening the doors for private investors into new areas of the Saudi Arabian economy.
“This creates significant opportunities for hotel investors.”
He added: “A large percentage of Saudi Arabia’s hotel pipeline focuses on the Holy Cities as economists are anticipating 30 million religious tourists by 2025.
“But hotel development will also be prompted by non-religious destinations, cultural cities and archaeological sites.”
According to the Saudi Council of Economic & Development Affairs, tourism’s contribution to the GDP will go from a current 3.5 per cent to over ten per cent by 2030.
The total value of hospitality investment projects in Saudi Arabia stands at US$1.9bn according to a forecast by MEED Projects.
Saudi Arabia Hotel Investment Conference
SHIC is a one-day knowledge and networking event for hotel investment industry leaders and influential figures from government, technology, construction and design to discuss and share hospitality investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
Take a look at a series of images of from the 2018 event here.
SHIC is the sister event to the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.
AHIC this year takes place at Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, from April 17th-19th.
The event will also be joined by the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony, which takes place on April 19th.