The recent buzz surrounding mid-market hotels continues. The budget hotel segment reared its head a few years ago, but it’s only lately that it has made serious progress.

While Dubai has largely been the focus of new developments in this segment of late, panellists at The Hotel Show’s Vision Conference chaired by Christopher Hewett, associate director, TRI Consulting said that other emirates need mid-scale hotels as much as Dubai.

“Not just Dubai — Ras Al Khaimah can benefit from more options as well. It’s is a fantastic destination for those looking to do rock climbing and deep sea diving. Adventure enthusiasts yearn for mid-scale hotels and Ras Al Khaimah has a huge potential to cater to them,” said Daniel During, principal & managing director, Thomas Klein International.

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But, there seems to be a contradicting hum in the air; a few experts revealed under anonymity to Hotelier Middle East that the recent mid-scale development buzz will do more harm than good to Dubai’s overall image.

These hoteliers believe Dubai’s positioning in the global hospitality sector is due to its luxurious hotels and resorts, and encouraging mid-market would undo what the emirate has achieved recently.

But the naysayers seem to be outnumbered, as operators and owners alike are firmly placing their faith in the rise of the millennial travellers flocking to the Middle East (who are attracted to mid-market brands), and as such, Dubai needs a healthy mid-market offering to attain its goal of attracting 20 million guests by 2020.

According to the panellists, millennial travellers will account for 75% of the world’s travel population in the next five years; these tourists will be looking to get the maximum out of their holidays, and more importantly, their buck.

“In the past, three-star and mid-market hotels in Dubai have been dodgy, but that trend is changing rapidly. The rise of savvy travellers to the emirate will ensure the growth and quality of the industry,” revealed Raki Phillips, SVP development, senior partner, INHOCO Group.

Additionally, mid-market and budget hotels are not going to challenge the five-star and upper scale hotels.

Mark Allaf, cluster general manager, Hilton Garden Inn summed it up: “The objective of Hilton Garden Inn is not taking market share away from our sister concern or competitors; we are simply offering an option to tourists.”