(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) With less than two years before the Expo 2020 Dubai opens its doors, the UAE's hospitality sector is steadily witnessing an increase in hotel inventory, as global and local players complete their projects in time for the event.
Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice president, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India at Swiss-Belhotel International, said that the expo would be a truly global event and that its success would positively impact many industries including the hospitality sector.
"We know that the Expo 2020 Dubai is going to be an extremely active time for the hospitality industry," he said, at the Arabian Travel Market 2019. "When you look at the number of visitors that are expected to arrive in the UAE for the event, then it is clear that you will need more supply in the hotel inventory. However, the question that will immediately follow is, what are you going to do with all that supply after the event is over? Hospitality players need to keep this in mind so that they can set a strategy for themselves. In addition, they should also ensure that the upcoming supply is not only focused on the four-star and five-star segment."
Highlighting the brand's strategy, Voivenel said that an expansion across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region was on the cards. "Our target is to have 25 hotels representing approximately 6,000 rooms in the region. However, the GCC will continue to be our biggest market with 60 per cent of portfolio concentrated here in high-growth business and leisure destinations by 2025."
Jean Faire, SVP, Hospitality at Damac Hotels & Resorts, noted that the group was planning on adding more keys to increase its inventory in time for the event. "We have more than 1,200 hotel keys in operation today in Dubai, and the recently launched Damac Towers by Paramount will add another 1,200 units to our inventory. We have constantly, over the past years, developed our brands very successfully to cater towards families, as well as corporate business and leisure."
He added: "When we look towards the future and Expo 2020 Dubai, we have 1,500 keys in the pipeline which will open within the next 12 months; and we have another 10,000 rooms in the pipeline between now and Expo 2020. This is a very aggressive plan of development, not only in the hotel and serviced apartments segment, but also in properties. We have 24,000 units opened, and 40,000 under development in all the areas that we feel will support the Expo 2020 upon its arrival."
Haitham Mattar, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, also highlighted a growth in hotel inventory in Ras Al Khaimah. In 2018, the emirate crossed the one million visitors mark, but was somewhat restricted by supply.
"Right now, our demand is growing by about 10 per cent year on year, while our supply is growing by three per cent year on year. However, we are very fortunate now that we have such a huge pipeline coming in that will double our inventory. We have about 5,500 rooms today, and we have plans to have 6,000 hotel rooms by 2022. This will allow us to start looking at our targets for 2021; we are aiming to reach 1.5 million visitors by the end of 2021. But, the biggest target is going to be 2025, where we aim to reach three million visitors," he said.
Rohma Sadaqat I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.