Qatar-based hoteliers talk sector diversification

Hoteliers in Qatar discuss themes for Arabian Hotel Investment Conference which is set to take place on April 25-27 in Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

The regional briefing for AHIC in Qatar.
The regional briefing for AHIC in Qatar.

This year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) will focus on diversification in the hospitality sector in response to the challenges faced by the region, according to the conclusions of a regional briefing in Doha in the run-up to the event.

A review of asset management was also a key theme at the briefing in Doha on 24 January, where 40 hoteliers, hospitality investors and owners came together to shape the discussion at AHIC, which is running from 25 to 27 April 2017 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

“The dominant issue at AHIC this year will be how the GCC hospitality sector can retain its attractiveness to investors in spite of all that is happening in the region,” said Andrew Humphries, COO of Katara Hospitality, who will be speaking at AHIC 2017.

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"Following the discussions here at the Doha regional briefing, I think that the diversification of the GCC hospitality sector will be a key theme at AHIC. It is essential that diversification happens at all levels and that we have flexibility in our business models. The traditional model is changing and a new model must be found. One that is more aggressive on the sales side and more thoughtful on the costs side, while retaining the best of what we have,” said Humphries.

Mohamed Al Mahmeed, Head of Tourism Investment Promotion at Qatar Tourism Authority, added: "Qatar has a clear strategy to develop a sustainable tourism industry through 2030. The past year saw several key developments: the growth of the cruise tourism sector, measures to ease entry to Qatar - including the introduction of a new transit visa - and a new hotels grading and classification system. The focus for us moving forward is to support the diversification of the hospitality sector’s offering and the development of new tourism products."

Another key theme at AHIC, according to Saahil Lalit, Colliers International associate director, hotels, will be asset management: “With revenues falling, we need to discuss how we can get more out of our properties,” he said.

He went on to highlight the rise in popularity of Airbnb in the region, calling for the need for the region’s hospitality sector to respond to the challenge of the newcomer “which can add significant volume to the market at short notice, and at low prices”.

Commenting on the regional briefing’s value to the Qatari hospitality sector, in preparation for the April AHIC conference, Amruda Nair, joint managing director & CEO, Aiana Hotels & Resorts, said: “It was valuable to be given access to performance data and trends data from across the region, to hear about different approaches, and to be able to have a dialogue with authorities."

“As an operator, it is great to be able to take a step back and get a big picture view. And in times of challenging market conditions, it is great to see how the industry can come together to respond. I think AHIC is an opportunity to look at investment criteria, and to discuss strategic collaboration between investors, operators, authorities and airlines,” she said.

The full programme for AHIC 2017 has now been launched and is available here.

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