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Sat 2 May 2015 01:00 AM

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Swiss hotel firm reveals major Gulf expansion plans

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts says it will boost its Middle East portfolio by more than 10 properties by 2020

Swiss hotel firm reveals major Gulf expansion plans
Movenpicks Dubai hotels include the Jumeirah Beach on The Walk.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has announced plans to boost its Middle East portfolio by more than 10 hotels over the next five years.

The Swiss hospitality firm said in a statement that it is looking to expand on the back of soaring regional visitor numbers.

The company, which currently operates 30 hotels and resorts regionally, said it will focus on high-growth markets where tourism numbers are forecast to grow exponentially including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman.

"We are in a good position to further expand our regional footprint,” said Andreas Mattmüller, chief operating officer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and Asia.

“Our timing could not be better as the Middle East looks set to embark on an unprecedented growth phase, fuelled by a combination of renewed consumer confidence and increased regional public and private infrastructure investment, in addition to upcoming mega events such as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which call for funds to be ploughed into supporting developments.”

Tourism to GCC countries is on track to hit the 64.27 million mark by 2020, according to figures revealed by statistics portal Statista. This compares to nearly 41 million in 2010 and a predicted 53.64 million in 2015.

Saudi Arabia has the lion’s share of the tourism pie, with more than 21 million visitors predicted for 2015, growing to 27.5 million by 2020, driven by the increasing number of pilgrims visiting the kingdom to perform Hajj or Umrah.

The kingdom is on Mövenpick’s pipeline priority list with plans to boost the firm’s portfolio from nine to 13 properties by 2017.

Two hotels will open this year, one in Riyadh and the other in Jeddah, while Mövenpick’s third property in Al Khobar, the 270-key Mövenpick Residences Al Khobar, will open next year. This will be followed in 2017 with the opening of the 353-room Mövenpick Hotel Financial District Riyadh.

“We are currently in negotiations with various owners with a view to adding five more upscale properties in various locations across the kingdom," added Mattmüller.

Expansion in the UAE is also high on Mövenpick’s agenda with the company recently announcing plans for two more Dubai properties - the 251-key Mövenpick Hotel Dubai Media City and 246-key Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai - both of which will open in 2017, taking its portfolio in the emirate from six to eight properties.

Other Middle East markets ripe for the picking, he said, will be Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Muscat, Salalah and Doha.

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