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Sun 4 Dec 2011 08:10 AM

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Abu Dhabi’s Rotana mulls move into China

Hotelier plans 8 hotel openings in 2012, sees China as part of long-term expansion plan

Abu Dhabi’s Rotana mulls move into China
Rotana recently launched its first hotel in Erbil, Iraq.

Abu
Dhabi’s Rotana Hotels is eying opportunities in China under a long-term growth
strategy but is still waiting for board approval, its president and CEO told
Arabian Business.

The
privately-owned hotelier has established a sales and marketing office in China
this year but a property launch is not on its immediate radar, said Selim El
Zyr.

“Of
course everybody will think of China because China is the largest country in
the world, the biggest GDP but it is not going to be our immediate target. We
have opened a sales and marketing office in China and then we’ll wait and see
what comes out,” he said.

Rotana
last month said it planned to launch eight new properties across the Middle
East in the next 12 months, marking its debut in Bahrain, Amman, Jordan and the
Oman city of Salalah.

“You’ve also
got Turkey, Greece, India, Pakistan and Iran – all of these countries that are
closer to the UAE where there is still opportunity for us,” El Zyr said.

China’s
fast-emerging middle class is becoming an primary source market for the UAE.
More than 150,000 Chinese tourists visited Dubai in 2010 while current figures
show a 41 percent increase on the previous year, the emirate’s Department of
Tourism and Commerce Marketing told Arabian Business in October.

Neighbouring
Abu Dhabi hosted 1,256 Chinese travellers in August, an increase of 14 percent
on the year-earlier period, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. 

“We take
the Chinese market extremely seriously,” a spokesperson for ADTA said. 

Abu
Dhabi flag carrier Etihad said in December it would bolster its existing
flights from Beijing with four, non-stop services a week from Chengdu, China’s
south-west economic hub.

In July,
the state-backed airline said it would operate daily returns between the UAE
capital and Shanghai from March 2012.

Dubai’s
Jumeirah Group opened its first hotel in China this year and has five other properties
under development in China. The group in March said it had indentified
travelers from China as the fastest growing group of guests in its hotels.

The
number of Chinese guests to Jumeirah’s Dubai hotels doubled in the first
quarter of the year, its chairman Gerard Lawless said in April.

“China
has grown 2.4 percent in 2010. Today it is already at 4.9 percent [in 2011],”
he said. “On February 14 [Chinese New Year] we were looking at almost 80
percent occupancy [of Chinese guests] within Burj al Arab.”

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