Hotel giant eyes big opportunity

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Dar Al Tawhid InterContinental Makkah is located in front of the Holy Haram, giving most guests uninterrupted views of the Muslim world’s religious centre. Photo – Orbitz

The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) believes that the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia and UAE offers it the highest growth potential in Middle East.

Outlining expansion plans of the Group, Pascal Gauvin, COO of IHG India, Middle East and Africa, told Hotelier Middle East that eight hotels are scheduled to open in Saudi Arabia by 2018. He believes that, “there is significant opportunity across the Middle East region. Two markets in particular stand out. Firstly Saudi Arabia offers a big opportunity, primarily in terms of the size of the market and its growth”.

The Group is already the largest international hotel company in Saudi Arabia, boasting 22 hotels with around 5000 rooms with world-class facilities for guests. Growth plans of the Group suggest that the Middle East market offers tremendous opportunities for growth in the hospitality sector. The eight new hotels would add a further 2500 rooms to the total of IHG in the region.

Government initiatives to promote Saudi Arabia as a favored business and travel destination have yielded positive results as the country is expecting to witness an increase in the demand for hotel rooms. The year 2013 is expected to see the opening of Holiday Inn Riyadh Meydan and Crowne Plaza Riyadh.

In 2012, IHG signed two hotels in Saudi Arabia in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District, an InterContinental and a Hotel Indigo. After the kingdom, IHG has identified the UAE to serve as another engine for growth. The demand for tourism and hospitality industry in the UAE is expected to increase manifold as the number of visitors will touch about 19 million by 2022.

By offering different brands to consumers, the hotel chain is seeking to firmly establish itself as a dominant player in the market. It is striving to capture a significant share of the market in all categories and destinations. The hotel chain also signed Crowne Plaza Ras Al Khaimah Resort last year.

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