Middle East Hotels
Mideast crisis 'dims industry prospects'
The current tension in the Middle East continues to cast a shadow over the regional travel and tourism market, says a leading hotelier in Saudi Arabia."Tourism travel is not promising enough in this region due to the current tension," says Ashraf Refaat, director of sales and marketing at the Crowne Plaza Jeddah hotel. He said peace and stability in the region, especially in the light of the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis, held the key to the industry's growth prospects. Refaat said the crisis sparked by the September 11 events had also negatively influenced the hotel's final quarter performance in line with the trend across the industry. He said the hotel recorded occupancy last year of between 50 and 60 per cent. He said the addition of new hotel rooms in the city despite a lack of corporate demand was further likely to pressure the market in Jeddah. The Crowne Plaza which derives the bulk of its guests from the corporate travel segment - 80 per cent - also benefits from the Haj and leisure traffic during Eid. Refaat said that in order to derive more room nights from the local market segment, the hotel is running a winter promotion which offers the same rate for both single and double rooms and discounted rates for junior suites, executive suites and Royal apartments. The hotel will also undergo a major renovation in the near future to further boost its attraction as the preferred place to stay in Jeddah. The 323-room Crowne Plaza is centrally located besides the Jeddah Corniche making it an ideal place to stay for both business and leisure visitors. It offers comprehensive business and recreational facilities and a wide range of world class international cuisine at its restaurants including Continental, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. Although only a short drive away from the main shopping areas of Jeddah, Crowne Plaza hotel offers its own selection of shops and facilities. The hotel's business centre offers a wide range of services from Internet, facsimile, photocopying, typing, use of personal computers, translation and other services to facilitate the business traveller's needs. With the Worldwide Reservations Office at the Front Desk, guests can book onward travel arrangements to over 2,000 hotels belonging to Six Continents group around the world. The hotel offers well appointed meeting rooms, conference facilities and banquet hall. The Crystal Ballroom is the largest and most prestigious hotel banquet hall in Jeddah with more than 1,080 sq m of space to accommodate up to 1,200 people in a "reception-style" setting or up to 800 seated guests. Recreational facilities at the Al Waha Health and Sports Club comprises of an outdoor swimming pool, well-equipped gymnasium, sauna and two squash courts.