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July 13--Two hotels opening in Bahrain this year are part of an ambitious plan by Swiss-Belhotel International that will see it launch 10 properties in key destinations across the GCC and Africa by next year.

The Hong Kong-based hotel management chain, which currently operates the Swiss-Belhotel Seef, plans to triple its inventory of rooms in the kingdom by opening two new brands -- Grand Swiss-Belresort Seef and Swiss-Belresidences Juffair.

The new property in the Seef District will be a 189-room five-star luxury resort which will open in the last quarter of this year, while the one in Juffair, scheduled to open later this year, will boast 129 rooms with a wide range of leisure and entertainment facilities.

Laurent Voivenel, senior vice-president of operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said, "We have 10 new openings lined up this year and the next in addition to a series of projects under development.

"These will not only add some fantastic hotels to our portfolio but will allow us to penetrate new destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt while growing our presence in existing territories. In addition, it marks the debut of some of our brands that will be available in the region for the first time ranging from luxury five-star to mid-market segments."

Tourism performance in the main cities across the Middle East is expected to remain strong with the fruition of major infrastructure projects such as airport expansions, increased global connectivity and growth of low-cost carriers, new leisure attractions, enhanced business facilities and a year-long calendar of regional and international events.

According to Mr Voivenel, Swiss-Belhotel International is looking to position itself as "the best alternative to blue-chip companies offering superior returns, unbeatable value and unforgettable experiences."

He said the brand promise is to combine the heritage of Swiss hospitality with the passion and service of Asia.

Our philosophy is to work hand-in-hand with our owners and business partners to maximise the financial returns and exceed the expectations of our guests, investors and associates."

According to industry sources, the Middle East ranks fourth in the world in terms of travel and tourism investment that's seen rising to $98.9 billion in 2027 from $49.6bn in 2016.

The region also reported the strongest annual traffic growth of any region globally for the sixth year running in 2017.

Looking ahead, 7.2bn is the number of global air passengers predicted by 2035.

The Middle East will see an extra 245 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2035 that will continue to support demand for hotels.

avinash@gdn.com.bh

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