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Tue 22 May 2007 04:10 PM

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Coral jumps on Syria bandwagon

UAE-based Coral International Hotels, Resorts and Spas has become the latest hotel chain to reveal plans to invest in new properties in Syria, marking the first time the group has ventured outside the GCC.

UAE-based Coral International Hotels, Resorts and Spas has become the latest hotel chain to reveal plans to invest in new properties in Syria, marking the first time the group has ventured outside the GCC.

The chain has signed a management contract for a five-star deluxe hotel in the northern town of Aleppo, the first of several hotels it plans to build in Syria, according to Michel Noblet, managing director, Coral International.

"Syria is not just a popular holiday destination, but also a place where business in diverse fields is thriving," he said.

"The future of hospitality lies in diversification and sustaining visitor numbers. Hence our aim is to offer something innovative to the market in order to tap this surging demand."

The company hopes to open the 65-room Coral Boutique, Aleppo by the end of the year, he added.

Syria recorded an annual growth rate in tourism arrivals of 15% in 2006; double the average for most countries in the region. Visitor numbers reached 3.4 million in 2006, but the country still houses just 43,000 classified hotel beds.

Starwood recently opened the 199-room Sheraton Aleppo and plans to build a Four Points Sheraton in Tartous by January 2011; the chain's sixth property in Syria. Kempinski Hotels has also revealed plans to develop two new hotels in Syria following the successful entry of the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea into Levant.

According to Duncan O'Rourke, regional director & general manager, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, the chain is planning two hotels in the Syrian capital; a new 110-room property with meetings facilities and several F&B outlets; and another hotel in a restored khan in downtown Damascus in the Old City, which will comprise around 60 rooms and suites.

"Modern day Damascus is a bustling city with a healthy future in business and tourism and is therefore a natural choice for Kempinski," he explained."The new properties will complement our presence in Jordan and the Levant."

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