Concluding four days of travel trade business on May 8, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2014, has reported that visitor numbers topped 23,000, up by over 2,100, or more than 10 per cent on 2013 figures.
The largest travel trade exhibitor showcase in the Middle East, now in its 21st year, accommodated more than 2,700 exhibitors with 120 first-time participants, 68 national pavilions and a packed schedule of 40 seminar and tech theatre sessions.
Independently ABC-audited, ATM 2014 had already recorded an 8 per cent increase in exhibitors compared to 2013, with a record amount of travel-focused floor space of 24,500 square metres – including one extra hall – all reserved months in advance.
The newly launched ‘Spotlight on Luxury’ theme featured a programme of focused seminars and hosted buyers. The ATM Exhibitor Showcase Theatre and ATM Live Wall were some of the other initiatives lined up for 2014. Another show highlight was Visa’s affluence report, which took an insightful look at spending patterns of wealthy regional travellers.
HOTEL EXPANSION PLANS
Accor Middle East unveiled its expansion plans, which will bring the group’s regional portfolio from 65 operational hotels at present to 100 hotels by 2017. The expanded portfolio will cover the economy, midscale, upscale and luxury sectors with Accor brands such as ibis Styles, Adagio, Novotel and Sofitel. By the end of 2014, 14 new properties will open, spanning from luxury to economy segments adding 3,173 rooms in the region, mainly in the Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
This year is another milestone for Accor’s Middle East development with the launch of three new brands, Ibis Styles (in Dubai’s Dragon Mart), Majlis Grand Mercure (in Madinah) as well as Adagio (with the first property opened earlier this year in Fujairah, the first Adagio Premium in Doha and two more properties to be opened in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by year end).
Hilton Worldwide announced new 370-room Hilton Garden Inn Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, to follow Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Mina and Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat, which are both expected to open in the emirate in 2015. The 359-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Residences Dubai - Al Barsha, located within a short walking distance of Mall of The Emirates opened this May.
Hilton also signed an agreement for a new resort property on Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah’s premier island destination. It is expected to open by end of 2015 and will be the third hotel for the DoubleTree brand in Ras Al Khaimah. Hilton has signed a management agreement for a new Hilton Hotels & Resorts hotel in Abu Dhabi’s iconic Saadiyat Island. The 366-room new-build Hilton Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island Resort is due to open end of 2015.
Hyatt announced further expansion in the UAE and Saudi Arabia with key launches being Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Hyatt Regency Makkah, Hyatt Regency Riyadh and Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek. This is after the April opening of the region’s first Hyatt Place in Al Rigga, Dubai.
The 47-storey Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl is located on the Southwest end of the Coastal Boulevard in the Ras Al Akhdar district and offers 368 rooms and 60 fully-furnished service apartments. Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek to be open in 2015 will be located in Dubai Health Care City. The development will feature 464 hotel rooms and 405 apartments.
In Saudi Arabia, Hyatt Regency Makkah will be part of a two-phase master planned mixed-use development with a built-up area of more than two million square meters. Hyatt Regency Makkah, slated to launch in 2015, will offer 657 guestrooms including 26 suites, in addition to several dining venues, a Regency Club lounge, a fitness centre, as well as 24-hour in room dining.
Hyatt Regency Riyadh will offer 260 guestrooms including 40 suites spread across 28 floors and is also slated to launch in 2015.
Marriott International, on the other hand, has signed six key properties in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and become the largest hotel operator in Africa with the acquisition of eight properties by Protea Hotels.
UAE will be home to three new properties, including the 312-room Renaissance Dubai Downtown Hotel scheduled to open in 2015. Saudi Arabia will see Marriott International boost its presence in the Kingdom’s extended-stay segment with the signing of Courtyard by Marriott Al Khobar and Residence Inn by Marriott Al Khobar. Furthermore, Marriott International confirms it is set to open the Residence Inn by Marriott Jazan in end 2014, bringing the total operational ‘Residence Inn by Marriott’ properties to three region-wide by the end of 2014; Courtyard by Marriott properties will also increase from five to six properties by early 2015. Marriott International also recently signed a new Marriott Hotel in Jeddah: the Jeddah Marriott Hotel has 283 rooms and is projected to open in late 2016.
Marriott International’s acquisition of Protea Hospitality Holding has added 890 rooms to its Africa pipeline, with five hotels ready to open by the first quarter of 2015, including properties in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda.
At the end of May, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts announced its third property in India, which will open at the end of 2014 in Kochi. The 167-room hotel in the southern state of Kerala, will complement Mövenpick Hotel Bangalore and the recently announced spa resort in Dharamshala.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts will increase its Middle East portfolio by 75 per cent with its plans to add 35 new properties in the region by 2017, expanding its portfolio to over 80 hotels. It will open seven new hotels in the Middle East this year, in the UAE, Iraq and Bahrain.
A new Sheraton hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road is expected to open this September, marking Starwood’s 15th hotel in Dubai. The UAE is the largest growth market for the company in the Middle East with plans to have more than 30 Starwood hotels by 2017.
Starwood currently has 10 hotels in Saudi Arabia with another eight properties in the pipeline. Upcoming openings in Saudi Arabia include three new hotels in Makkah – Sheraton, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton – adding nearly 1,500 rooms to the Holy City. The Aloft brand will debut in Saudi Arabia with Aloft Riyadh in 2015.
Starwood will re-enter Iraq after two decades with the milestone opening of Sheraton Dohuk in October. Starwood will also open three hotels in Erbil under its Sheraton, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands by 2017.
The company will also unveil three new conversions in 2014. Opening in July, The Westin Bahrain City Centre and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre will mark the debut of both brands in Bahrain. Grand Hills, a Luxury Collection Resort, Broumana will be the first Luxury Collection hotel in Lebanon when it opens in November after an extensive renovation.
Starwood plans to open five W Hotels across the Middle East, including two in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Amman in the next few years. These, together with upcoming St. Regis and Luxury Collection hotels, will more than double Starwood’s luxury footprint in the region by 2017. Starwood’s mid-market brands Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft will more than double in the region with openings including the addition of six new Aloft hotels across Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Starwood’s upper-upscale brands – Sheraton, Le Méridien and Westin – represent almost half of the company’s pipeline in the Middle East. The Sheraton brand is leading this growth with seven hotels under development. Upcoming openings include established and emerging destinations such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Renowned for its distinct wellness positioning, Westin will more than triple its presence in the Middle East across the region by 2017.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.