Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 1, 2018:
The Saudi Hotel Investment Conference (SHIC) 2018, was launched under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH). The conference showcased the latest opportunities in the hospitality investment industry, in the presence of industry experts from the MENA region.
Held under the theme “Focus on the Future”, SHIC was hosted for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by strategic partner Dur Hospitality, in corporation with organizer Saudi Event Management and Marketing (SEMARK) and co-organizer Bench Events and MEED at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel.
Delivering the opening speech on behalf of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, His Excellency Dr. Hamad Al-Ismael, the Vice President of SCTH, praised the Kingdom’s progress in the tourism and hospitality sector through mega projects implemented within the National Transformation Program (NTP) and Vision 2030.
He explained the vital and dynamic role played by SCTH in creating a suitable development and investment environment, which contributes towards the increase of tourism establishments and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, alongside the entry of more than 40 global brands operating in different regions of the Kingdom, in accordance with global standards. SCTH encourages the private sector to play a bigger role in the industry by providing them with beneficial incentives, in order to further boost investments in the industry.
Al-Ismael added that SCTH, along with the approval of the Ministry of Finance, provided loans through the program for tourism and accommodation projects, which is dedicated to schemes located within cities and provinces that are less developed, have a great tourism potential and a population of less than one million. The loans offered are worth up to 50 percent of the cost of the project which amounts to 100 million Saudi Riyals.
In its first edition, SHIC was attended by dignitaries and hospitality leaders, and aimed to provide all stakeholders in the hospitality sector with the necessary information about the industry and its investment opportunities, in line with the NTP and Vision 2030. Key topics relating to the tourism and hospitality sector were discussed during the conference, showcasing the experience and journey of key industry players, offering an overview of the hospitality investment environment in Saudi Arabia and exploring potential avenues of development in the industry.
Dr. Badr Al Badr, CEO at Dur Hospitality, expressed his delight to host this conference, noting the importance of having similar events in Saudi Arabia, especially during a time when cities are significantly developing and boosting local tourism.
During his welcome address, he said that, “despite the challenges we have witnessed, the demand for hotel rooms, which currently stands at 84,000, is expected to increase with the addition of 64,000 new rooms, out of which 40,000 are under construction”.
He added that, “the Saudi market is a hotspot with plenty of opportunities opening up in the tourism and hospitality sector, subsequently attracting multinational companies following the new regulations on foreign investments in the Kingdom”. He also praised the efforts of SCTH in paving the way to creating a milestone for the Kingdom’s hospitality industry, while also positioning the industry as a key contributor to the economy, in line with the goals of Vision 2030 that aims to uplift the tourism sector.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman and Founder of SHIC and its parent event, the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2018, praised the efforts that are contributing to the growth of the hospitality sector in most cities of the Kingdom, especially in the region of Mekkah and Al Medina which is witnessing a high demand for religious tourism. While highlighting the many investment opportunities in the sector, for both hotels and serviced apartments, he expressed his expectations in witnessing a remarkable growth in three and four-star hotels within next three years, which would result in a significant demand shift for this category in comparison to luxury hotels. he conference also saw the participation of prominent local and international speakers including: Gerald Lawless, Chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council Pascal Gauvin – Managing Director, India & MEA, IHG; Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director - MEA, Marriott International; and Olivier Granet, Chief Executive Officer, Middle East and Africa, Accor Hotels.
Visions and trends of the tourism and hospitality sector were also assessed during the conference, noting some of the most attractive destinations, projects and initiatives in the Kingdom that drive domestic tourism across the country, as well as finance, investment, asset management, and best practices in hospitality asset development.
According to SCTH, the number of international companies that are operating tourism facilities in the Saudi market has increased from 20 in 2008 to 32 in 2017. The number of hotels in the Kingdom has also increased from 1465 in 2014 to 1624 at the beginning of 2017. Additionally, approximately 60 percent of the hotel facilities currently under construction in Saudi Arabia (total of 143) are expected to open in 2018.
The report issued by SCTH also foresees the opening of hotels from different categories with an investment of 143.9 billion riyals by the year 2020.
The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference takes pace in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 17 – 19 April. To find out more or to register, visit www.arabianconference.com.