By James Bennett
Global hotel empire Accor is launching a US$1bn expansion drive across the Middle East.
Global hotel empire Accor is to open 28 new 8000-room properties across the Middle East by 2010 in a massive US$1bn expansion drive, global CEO Gilles Pelisson has exclusively revealed to Arabian Business.
Accor, that owns five-star chain Sofitel, Novotel and the mid to low-end brands Ibis, Mercure and Formula One has raised around US$4bn by selling its major assets and properties under a leaseback scheme in order to fund global growth plans.
“Our expansion plans are huge and we will be opening 28 hotels across the Middle East with 14 in Dubai and will need around 8000 staff to fill those properties,” said Pelisson. Within that figure the company also plans to open an undisclosed number in Saudi Arabia, taking advantage of the year-round religious tourism the Kingdom offers.
“We have the largest Sofitel in the world near Mecca, will have a Novotel in Riyadh by October of this year and two properties, one on the east coast of the country and another in Jeddah. We will have between 70 and 75 hotels in the region by 2010,” he added.
Pelisson said that 5% of the company’s revenues stemmed from the Middle East and that the region, and in particular the UAE, was becoming a “showcase” for clients and regular customers, particularly as it served as a travel through hub for millions of tourists.
The business is planning a massive global expansion plan and is currently building a 600-room hotel in Bangkok, Thailand and a massive 100 Ibis hotels in China, with 35 signed deals under construction and five currently open.
Accor operates under management agreements in the Middle East due to restrictions over foreign ownership and has many wealthy investors including property giant Emaar in which it has partnered to open hotels in India and 50 Formula One properties in Brazil, Australia and across Asia.