Marriott's International Sales Office has recorded a 12 per cent growth in sales for 2006 for Middle East, Africa and the subcontinent as compared to 2005, according to a statement from the hotel chain.
The impressive growth in 2006 was driven by a surge in inter-regional travel in the business transient and MICE categories. Changing patterns of consumer behaviour was yet another aspect that fuelled higher revenues in 2006, said Samir Daqqaq, vice-president, Marriott Global Sales Organization, Middle East, Africa and the Subcontinent, “The regional hospitality business is witnessing a new wave of demand across the leisure, business and MICE categories. Within Business Transient, the region is seeing renewed interest in commercial centres such as Dubai, Doha and Riyadh.
“Within both the business and leisure categories, the revival of interest in United States marked a reversal of the trend that began with the stringent VISA regulations enforced after 9/11.”
In 2006, the number of visitors travelling to the UK was outstanding. Visitors from the Middle East were amongst the biggest contributors to Marriott's hotels in Vienna and London, added Daqqaq.
Outside of the Middle East region, Daqqaq highlighted the emergence of Shanghai and Beijing, as business destinations for the Middle East.
Aside from these, demand from the leisure category continues to grow at a rate of 19 per cent. Properties in the Far East such as Shanghai, Koh Samui, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and European cities of London, Paris and Vienna continued to draw in visitors from the Middle East.
Visitors to Marriott’s properties in Egypt – a favoured leisure destination in the Middle East – were largely from Saudi Arabia. Thailand’s Marriott properties saw a phenomenal inflow of Middle Eastern tourists last year as the country, driven by aggressive marketing initiatives rolled out by the country and its national airline.
One emerging contributor to the overall growth for Marriott's sales machinery is the government sector. Marriott will shortly announce a slew of strategies to capitalise on the lodging opportunities within the sector.