By Alex Delmar-Morgan
EXCLUSIVE: Global hotel group targets growing religious tourism in kingdom.
Fairmont Raffles Hotels International on Tuesday unveiled a new hotel in Makkah, a sign of the booming hospitality sector in the kingdom.
The hotel operator, which employs 35,000 and owns 92 hotels globally, will open a Raffles Makkah Palace Hotel in Makkah, in November in a tie-up with Saudi construction giant Bin Laden Group.
The 198-room hotel will feature 67 elevators. The hotel group will also open the Fairmont in Makkah, to be called The Royal Clock Tower, in early 2010.
Chris Cahill, chief operating officer, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International told Arabian Business: "Makkah is a religious tourism venue and there is a growing and established market. In Saudi, there is a need for hotels because there is business going on there so occupancy is supported."
Government and foreign investment has triggered a hospitality boom in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it aims to attract 88 million tourists and generate more than $30bn in tourism revenue by 2020.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, president and chairman of the board of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities said plans were part of a new national tourism strategy.
Fairmont Raffles are building three more hotels in the UAE, two in Abu Dhabi and one on Palm Jumeirah.
Cahill said REVpar (revenue per available room), the industry benchmark, was 25-30 percent down at the Fairmont in Dubai compared to this time last year. Occupancy rates were 60-70 percent.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.