|By Muzaffar Rizvi, Khaleej Times, Dubai,
United Arab EmiratesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 12, 2012--DUBAI -- Accor is adopting an aggressive expansion plan in Middle East and Africa, or MEA, to launch 22 new properties in the region, its top official said.
Europe's largest hotel group, which currently manages 56 hotels in 10 Middle East counties, will add 5,598 rooms to its existing capacity of 12,335 in order to increase its market share during the next three years in the region.
"We have firm plans to open 22 hotels representing 5,598 rooms in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria by 2014," Christophe Landais, managing director of Accor Middle East, told in an interview.
He said half of Accor's new properties will be launched in the UAE that will add more than 3,300 rooms in its existing capacity. "Abu Dhabi and Dubai will share eight hotels while the rest three projects will be launched in Fujairah," he said.
Accor Middle East is one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in the region. Its broad portfolio of hotel brands in Middle East range from economy to luxury as it caters both segments of hospitality sectors. The hotel's new brands -- Pullman and Adagio -- are emerging as strong players in the region.
"We are going to introduce a new hotel brand in the long-stay serviced apartment segment, under its Adagio brand, with its first property in Middle East to be launched in Abu Dhabi in the near future," Landais said. He said Accor Middle East has already introduced luxury hotel brand Sofitel while in mid-scale segment it operates MGallery, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, ibis and ibis Styles.
In reply to a question, he said the demand for mid-scale and low-end properties is on the rise in the region.
"Yes, we agree that mid-segment or low-end properties are more in demand as these properties help broaden Dubai's attraction as a more affordable destination."
Landais is upbeat about the GCC hotel industry this year and said good days ahead for hospitality sector.
"We see a very good prospect for 2012 as the hotel industry is beginning to boom again and it is returning to a healthy and robust level," he said. Landais said Accor Middle East recorded steady growth as occupancy levels and revenue per available room rose in first quarter of this year.
"We have recorded 25 per cent increase in first-quarter occupancy level while revenue per available room and average daily rates grew in line with the market trends," he said.
To a question, he said the UAE hotel industry is expected to see better occupancy levels this year. "Occupancy in the UAE is at a good level while average daily rate will continue to increase," he said.
"We have seen that Dubai has already recovered and we are positive of continued growth in the region's tourism industry," he said.
To a question about the impact of Arab Spring on UAE's hotel industry, he said: "We see no significant effect in the UAE's hotel industry." He said occupancy levels may see the 2008 peak in the near future, but average daily rates are unlikely to match those figures due to increased competition in the region.
Accor is considered the world's fourth-largest hotel group behind the InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood chains. The French company, which owns 4,200 hotels worldwide, aims to open 40,000 rooms in 2012. It has more than 180,000 employees worldwide.
(c)2012 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
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