Selim Al-Zir President and Chief Executive Officer at Rotana
Abu Dhabi-based Rotana is pushing ahead with its expansion plans in 2011, buoyed by improving conditions in the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa. Revealed for the first was the total size of investment managed by Rotana to open in 2011, reaching a staggering number of over 800 million dollars.
Lebanon represented the most important market for the company in 2010, with Mr. Selim Al-Zir President and Chief Executive Officer at Rotana, stressing these results, saying: “However, Lebanon was the best performing country considering the tourism boom that the country has experienced, due to its current stability and commitment to renovation and progression”. He also added: “Despite the current situation, we are confident Lebanon will maintain its stability. Moreover, we are looking forward to even better results this year especially in light of Lebanon’s initiative for economic integration with Turkey, Syria and Jordan.”
Rotana announced that it will open six new hotels in the UAE this year, bringing its total to 33 hotels in the Emirates, the largest by any single hotel brand, local or foreign.
Rotana is also scheduled to open one new hotel in Qatar as part of an aggressive, yet tactical expansion strategy in the region that will see the hotel group managing a massive 12,515 rooms across its portfolio of hotels in the region by the end of 2011.
“The last few months have seen the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa registering positive growth. We see that momentum being sustained as general business conditions improve across the board,” says Mr. Selim El Zyr.
Latest figures from STR Global show that occupancy in the Middle East and Africa region was 69.8 percent in November 2010, an increase of 2.4 percent as compared to the previous year with Abu Dhabi experiencing the largest occupancy increase, rising 33.6 percent to 76 percent. Rotana recorded an average occupancy rate of 74 percent in 2010, a result obtained by its heavy investments on marketing initiatives last year and by pursuing new feeder markets in Eastern Europe, South America, and the Far East, such as China, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Rotana expects its average occupancy rate to increase by nine percent in 2011. “All our properties across all destinations performed well, with some meeting their targets and others surpassing theirs.
As a leader in the region’s hospitality industry, El Zyr underscores Rotana’s commitment to creating opportunities that will support its long-term growth. “We are constantly developing new ways to keep in step with changing travel trends and guest preferences, and one of the key areas for growth that we are currently addressing is the mid-tier market, for which we developed the Centro Hotels by Rotana brand.”
Rotana’s strategic aim is to have a property located in every key city of the Middle East and Africa. “Location is our main focus when it comes to deciding on managing a property. We see a lot of potential in Iraq, where the infrastructure build up is seeing a surge in the influx of international firms taking advantage of the construction boom. Lebanon is also in our radar, because of a booming tourism sector spawned be reforms. Plus, Qatar’s triumphant World Cup 2022 bid offers plenty of opportunities that we are keen on taking advantage of,” El Zyr said.
The proudly home-grown hospitality brand will require 3,500 new employees to support its growth targets, a welcome development for an industry hit by substantial lay-offs as a result of the global downturn.
Among other exciting developments the hotel will introduce in 2011 include a mobile booking platform as well as other mobile applications; as well as the adoption of “green standards” and energy management technologies across all new properties.