By Nikhil Pereira
Radisson Blu Hotel Erbil is currently under construction
Carlson Rezidor announced this week it will be opening its first hotel in Iraq in 2017.
The Radisson Blu Hotel Erbil is currently under construction and its opening in two years will push Rezidor Hotel Group’s global presence to 81 countries.
Wolfgang M. Neumann, president & CEO of Carlson Rezidor, said: “Our long-term strategy targets asset-light and sustainable growth with a specific focus on emerging markets. Kurdistan is one of the most interesting emerging markets in the Middle East, the prospering oil-rich region is not affected from instabilities in Iraq and offers considerable business potential.
"We carefully monitor and evaluate safety & security in Kurdistan and are confident that the region will experience a further positive development."
Meanwhile, Mark Willis, area VP for the group, told Arabian Business' sister title Hotelier Middle East: “It’s easy to speak about the promise in Iraq’s future, but we want to go whole-heartedly into investing in its operations. We believe there is a real opportunity in Iraq, and the country will soon be known for its hospitality. I have been to Kurdistan and Iraq when I took office a few years ago, and believed in its potential immediately.
“We expect the GCC countries and Europe to be the feeder markets for our Iraq-based Radisson Blu, and it will be a difficult to resist given its culinary diversity and brilliance.”
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Erbil will be located three kilometres away from Erbil International Airport, which is the main gateway to the region.
“Erbil is an attractive hub for international companies, attracts a growing number of leading international investors, and shows a higher GDP growth than other parts of Iraq. The regional government is actively driving the area development, and we look forward to supporting travel and tourism in Erbil and Kurdistan together with our partners. We also want to be an important employer: By creating new jobs for local talent and engaging with the community we operate in, we can make a difference,” added Elie Younes, executive vice president and chief development officer at Rezidor.
The upscale hotel will offer 260 guest rooms, an all-day-dining restaurant, a speciality restaurant, a lobby bar, meeting rooms and a ballroom, a gym and a spa.
Due to its climatic and landscape conditions, Erbil has historically mostly appealed to tourists. The city is famous for its archaeological citadel, which dates back to around 600 years BC, and is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world.
Radisson will not be the first international brand to be represented in the Kudistan region of Iraq. Back in 2013, Hilton Worldwide had announced a management contract.