|By Muzaffar Rizvi, Khaleej Times, Dubai,
United Arab EmiratesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 19,2012--DUBAI- Movenpick Hotels & Resorts sees a positive outlook for the Middle Eastern hospitality industry and plans to strengthen its brand position in the region by launching 10 new hotels in the next couple of years, a top official said.
The Zurich-headquartered international hotel chain recorded a 16 per cent revenue growth in the Middle East in 2011 despite unrest in some parts of the region.
"Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait have proven to be the most resilient markets so far and Dubai, as a city, has actually seen an upturn in both room occupancies and average rates," Toufic Tamim, vice-president for sales and marketing in the Middle East, told in an interview.
Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, an upscale international hotel company, currently operates 25 hotels in Middle East. It also has 21 properties in Europe, 18 hotels in Africa and seven in Asia.
"We have 37 new projects in the pipeline including 15 projects in Asia and 10 developments in Middle East and this is an indication how we have been able to identify growth opportunities despite the global economic climate," he said. Tamim said the company is strongly expanding in Asia and its vision is to manage around 25 hotels per continent by 2015.
The upscale Swiss brand is owned by Movenpick Holding with 66.7 per cent stake. Kingdom Group holds the remaining 33.3 per cent, which has representation in 25 countries with 71 hotels and resorts.
"Exciting milestones have been achieved this year as we have brought our total number of operating and planned hotels worldwide to over 100," he said, adding that the brand is set to launch new properties in the UAE, Egypt, France, Thailand, Turkey and the Philippines.
"Movenpick has always believed in growth, but at a sustainable pace. In every region from Europe and Africa to the Middle East and Asia, we have carefully consolidated our developments to maintain a balanced portfolio distribution that ensures decision-making is effective, resources are efficiently utilised and development is sustainable." In reply to a question about the Arab Spring, he said the political unrest in some countries within the Mena region presented a challenge for some destinations especially Lebanon and Jordan.
"The Arab Spring caused a shift of demand for leisure guests and conferences from some countries in the Middle East such as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt towards Dubai," he said.
Tamim said Movenpick Hotels & Resorts is on track to open its landmark property at Jumeirah Lake Towers in Dubai by the fourth quarter. It is expected to attract corporate and leisure travellers mainly from the GCC, CIS, Europe and China. The brand hotel and residence project comprising 168 rooms and 307 apartments will boast unobstructed views of the lake, nearby golf courses and the Dubai Marina.
"The city has also been and continues to remain a preferred short-haul destination for visitors from other GCC nations. The positive market trends are indicative of continued growth for Dubai's hotel industry," he said.
Movenpick Hotels & Resorts is expected to launch eight properties in the UAE by 2015, opening two projects each year in the emirate.
"Positive market trends are indicative of continued growth for Dubai's hotel industry. Our four existing hotels in the city have reported a positive start this year as the leisure and exhibition season kicked in during the first quarter and we are expecting similar positive numbers for the remainder of 2012."
He said Movenpick's properties in Dubai are expected to record an 18 per cent revenue growth this year due to political stability and high demand in the emirate.
"Infrastructure and business developments over the years have helped Dubai grow into an important international business and leisure destination," he said.
Tamim expects a large number of outbound travellers from China and India as a result of strategic marketing campaigns, which target these rapidly growing markets. He said China alone is expected to produce over 100 million outbound travellers by 2020 while India recorded a significant 12.5 million outbound travellers last year.
"These positive market trends will ensure a sustainable growth for the emirate's hotel industry," he concluded.
(c)2012 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
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