Gulf hotel operators eye Saudi market potential
Business Monitor International (BMI) has released a new report that predicts the number of leisure travellers arriving in Saudi Arabia in 2010 will grow five percent year-on-year to 12.91 million in 2010. Influx is expected to grow further by an average of 6.5 per cent y-o-y through 2014, driven by the Kingdom’s growing popularity among religious and business travellers, the report claimed. The Saudi Government is keen on developing its domestic tourism market, given that citizens spend millions on their annual travels abroad. The number of Saudi Nationals travelling abroad is expected to rise from around 8.07 million in 2009 to almost 11 million by 2014. Several international hotel chains opened their first hotels in the country last year in recognition of the local travel market’s huge potential.Cristal Hotels and Resorts, one of the fastest-growing hotel chains in Abu Dhabi, has revealed plans to construct properties in Riyadh, Jeddah, Khobar and Mecca to keep pace with various entry activities being witnessed within the country’s rapidly growing hospitality and leisure sector.”Saudi Arabia is home to two of Islam’s holiest cities and several historic sites and is also either a base or a stopover for numerous multinational corporations. These have combined to turn the Kingdom into a major tourism hub. We intend to apply our formula for successful entry into other key Gulf countries such as Qatar to this very promising market. One area we will focus on is to encourage Saudi nationals, who are consummate travellers, to consider taking their vacations in their own homeland instead,” said Peter Blackburn, CEO, Cristal Hotels and Resorts.