Qatar is positioned for “exponential growth” as the New Doha International Airport reaches maximum capacity in the coming years, according to senior officials from the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton group of companies.
Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director – Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, said that the three Gulf airlines will soon be moving as many passengers as the world’s top three airports put together. He said that Dubai today has 9.5mn arrivals annually. If Qatar attracts even a small percentage of the 42mn people a year that can be accommodated by the new airport, then tourism in Qatar will see a huge boost and the hospitality sector will see tremendous growth. Kyriakidis is amazed by the attention paid to the hospitality sector by the government of Qatar, which he says is an indication of the importance of the sector in the country’s plans for development and growth.
Herve Humler, President and COO, The Ritz-Carlton Company (RCC), is also visiting Qatar as part of a company delegation to meet with government ministers, supporters and strategic partners. Speaking to the press, he said RCC has plans to open another hotel in the country in the coming years and is discussing options with their partners, although no set plans have been made.
Marriott International has 38 hotels in the Middle East and Africa including eight Ritz-Carltons, and after the completion of projects currently in the pipeline the total will reach nearly 90 hotels by 2015, representing 25% growth rate per annum. The group currently employs 12,000 people, which will reach 30,000 when all new projects are completed.
RCC is opening seven new hotels in the Middle East, Asia and US this year, following the opening of seven new locations in 2011.
RCC saw growth of 6.5% in 2011 despite a fall in the number of travellers to the region, poaching customers from their competitors. Humler said that RCC is in fact doing 40% better than their competitors worldwide. RCC is opening its first hotel in Abu Dhabi in the third quarter this year with villas, a spa and high end retail outlets.
Humler said that there is plenty of room for growth in the Qatar market. Qatar currently has 17,000 hotel rooms available, and will need 60,000 in the next 10 years. He said that RCC is looking at what is coming up in Qatar, including the 2012 UN Climate Summit in December, which will require 27,000 rooms, representing a great opportunity to grow.
He expressed his hope that Qatar will build a second convention centre so they can accommodate multiple events, while promoting its Arab culture as an asset for tourism promotion.
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