By Courtney Trenwith
The number of keys is set to increase to 30,000 in time for the UAE showcase and the Qatar 2022 World Cup
French hotel company Accor has announced it intends to double its rooms in the Middle East to more than 30,000 by 2020.
The group, which has brands including Sofitel and Ibis, also recently announced it had reached 100 hotels in the region, including 16,000 rooms already open and 9000 in development.
CEO and chairman Sébastien Bazin told Arabian Business the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America were key growth areas for the company, which is opening a new hotel globally every two days.
There are only two rooms per 1,000 people in the Middle East, compared to 10 in Europe and 15 in the US, he said.
“So that tells you the scale at which we can grow in these markets,” Bazin said.
“I’ll be back in three years and telling you we’ll be doubling again.”
Bazin said the growth would be driven by improving infrastructure, particularly in the GCC, and the delivery of key events and government policies including Dubai’s Vision 2020 and the World Expo, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s target to attract 20 million visitors to its holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
While demand for luxury hotels would continue, Accor would particularly invest in economy hotels, which Bazin said were presently lacking in the region.
“It’s not at saturation yet for upscale, but we have to watch out,” he said. “To go from 13 million visitors [in Dubai] to 20 million, that’s 7 million [new visitors]. Some of them will still want luxury.”
Bazin said he was not concerned about the viability of hospitality in the UAE beyond 2020, when it will host the World Expo and the year it has set its target to double visitor numbers to 20 million.
He also was not concerned about Qatar’s market after the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“[Qatar] is a fast growing market and they need supply in new hotel rooms. Qatar has more robustness than people believe,” he said.