The hotel industry has chosen the Arabian Travel Market 2004 as the time and place for a number of important announcements. The Dubai companies involved include The Ramee Group, the Al Bustan Residence - Hotel Apartments, Novotel and Ibis Hotels at the World Trade Centre. They are all set to announce their latest plans. The Qatar Tourism Authority is also set to announce a raft of new hotel and infrastructure projects.
The Ramee Group is launching two new properties it has acquired in the UAE, said General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Animesh Ghatak. “Business and leisure tourism are poised for huge growth with the Middle East probably the fastest expanding tourist market in the world.” He commented, “We are looking forward to acquiring more hotels and apartment hotels in the region to take advantage of this.”
Moussa El Hayek, General Manager of Al Bustan Residence - Apartment Hotels, added: “We increased sales in the GCC market in the summer and winter season and we are expecting continued growth, especially from intra regional travel. We also expect new markets to continue to discover the region.”
Ignace Bauwens, General Manager at Novotel and Ibis has said he will be launching an Ibis business economy hotel during the ATM.
In an even more significant move the Qatar Tourism Authority is announcing projects costing more than $2.5 billion during ATM 2004. This latest expansion in the country’s tourism industry comes on the back of the announcement that Qatar is building a new $5 billion airport at Doha which should be completed by 2015.
The authority’s International PR Manager, Bassem Al Terkawi, said: “Our main focus is to build our travel and tourism infrastructure. Last year our hotels had occupancy rates of between 80 per cent and 85 per cent so we need to open more hotels and upgrade existing hotels to accommodate demand. Our aim is to promote Qatar as a leading leisure, business, sport and education tourism destination in the Middle East.”
Qatar has almost doubled the space it takes at ATM, up from 120 square metres last year to 200 square metres, and is hosting more than 13 hotel and tour operators.
There as been a great deal of activity in the Middle Eastern hotel industry already this year. For example, back in March, Rotana Hotels announced the signing of new management agreements including one for the tallest hotel in the world known as the Rose Rotana Suites. Expected to open in 2006 the property will be 333 metres high and will consist of 72 floors. They are also signed up for the Al Murooj Rotana Hotel and Towers, located off Sheikh Zayed Road, the Queen Center Rotana Suites in Damascus, the Al Manshar Rotana Hotel and Suites in Kuwait, the Raouche Rotana Suites in Lebanon and the City Centre Rotana Hotel in Doha. In Dubai alone, Rotana will have 10 hotels with over 2500 rooms.
Commenting on these announcements Daniel Hajjar Vice President Sales & marketing Rotana Hotels, remarked: “We are very proud to have been selected to operate these fantastic and unique properties. We are committed to meet their respective owners’ expectations and to bring to the UAE new levels of benchmarking.”
Like so many aspects of Gulf tourism the hotel industry appears to be booming. Matt Thompson, Group Exhibitions Director at Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organisers of the ATM said: “We have over 50 hotels groups signed up for ATM 2004 and the feedback we are getting from the industry in the region is that this year will be another very strong one for business and that we will see considerable further expansion over the next few years.”