The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has witnessed a steady growth in the Middle East over the past few years along with an increase in market share. Rajit Sukumaran, Chief Development Officer— Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), IHG, shares an insight into the plans for the next five years.
Could you share a brief about the strategic growth in the Middle East region over the past few years?
InterContinental Hotels Group established itself in the Middle East over 50 years ago and has since established itself as a significant operator within the region, with 91 hotels across six brands in the GCC, Levant and Egypt. As the Middle East continues to grow as a business hub and tourist destination, we are confident of our long-term growth in the region, having seen increased market share over the last couple of years. In the coming years, you will see a continued focus on mid-scale and our established brands in the Middle East, as we grow by 29 per cent (by number of rooms) over the next three to five years, opening the 37 hotels (9,325 rooms) in our pipeline in the Middle East.
What are your thoughts on KSA seeking investment in the tourism sector?
IHG has a strong legacy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home to our largest footprint in the GCC with 33 hotels currently operating. The Kingdom also makes up 32 per cent of our development pipeline in the region, offering incredible opportunities in terms of both domestic and inbound tourism. Since the inception of the Kingdom’s national Vision 2030, we are seeing positive investor sentiment, which will see IHG build on its strengths within the country.
There has been an increase in mid-scale offerings across the region over the past two years with Dubai taking a lead. What is the brand performance that you have seen subsequently? With the increasing demand for mid-scale branded accommodation as a result of increased regional travel and decreased cost of airline travel, IHG remains focused on the mid-market segment. The Holiday Inn brand family is well established in the region. Last year saw both the landmark opening of the largest Holiday Inn hotel in the UAE, Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City, as well as the management development agreement with Al Hokair Group to roll out a minimum of 10 Holiday Inn Express over 15 years. We have also seen great interest in extend-stay brand Staybridge Suites.