The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2018 is to be held in the emerging northern emirate of Ras al Khaimah.
The surprise move follows 13 successful years where the event has been held at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.
Reporting from Ras al Khaimah, Phil Blizzard revealed AHIC 2018 is set to take place on April 17th-19th at The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah and will, for the first time, take place at a custom-made complex called the AHIC Village on the beachfront of hotel.
The theme of the event is ‘Focus’.
Bench Events chairman Jonathan Worsley expressed delight at having the event hosted in Ras Al Khaimah and revealed that it will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, supreme council member and ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
AHIC 2018 will be co-hosted by its founding patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and chairman of Emirates Airline.
Worlsey added that Sheikh Ahmed’s “continued support of the industry and AHIC has been critical to the region’s tourism growth”.
He further revealed that for this event, a bespoke pavilion will be built on the beach in front of The Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah, giving the organising team an opportunity to experiment this year.
It will include stages, networking areas, workspaces, new private meeting options as well as access to relationship building activities.
The news was released in an open letter to members of the AHIC Community, outlining the changes in the conference this year, while revealing that the region’s tourism industry has now grown to an estimated US $227 billion in value.
Worlsey noted in the letter: “Our efforts have highlighted the Middle East as an attractive destination for business and leisure, as well as a resilient market with real returns for investors.
“Together, we have enabled prosperity.”
Haitham Mattar, chief executive, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, welcomed the move.
He said: “Our partnership with AHIC is testament to the success of Ras Al Khaimah as one of the region’s fastest growing tourism destinations and its emergence as a prime MICE and business host, benefiting from its close proximity to Dubai.
“As Ras Al Khaimah draws closer to reaching its one million visitors target by the end of 2018, and charts a path towards attracting 2.9 million visitors by 2025, the need for quality hotel rooms has never been so important.
“Hotel investment is integral to accommodating this growth and the emirate will need an additional 15,000 hotel rooms by 2025.
“We anticipate further growth in the emirate’s impressive pipeline of major hospitality brands, as RAKTDA launches a range of new tourism products and attractions, expanding the appeal of the emirate for travellers and residents alike.”
Worsley also revealed that the event will be back in Dubai for the 2019 edition.