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Global hotel pulse: Middle East/Africa news
November 29 2011

In this roundup of news from the Middle East/Africa region: The Middle East sees performance rise in October; Sun Resorts Limited posts a larger third-quarter loss; and opening and development news from across the region.

Highlights
  • Hotel performance in the United Arab Emirates is expected to grow until at least the Dubai Shopping Festival in February 2012.
  • The MEA hotel pipeline totals 471 hotels comprising 128,969 rooms, according to STR Global.
  • Accor has opened its first ibis budget hotel, the 121-room ibis budget in Tangier, Morocco.

HotelNewsNow.com each week features a news roundup from a different region of the world. Today’s review covers the Middle East/Africa region.

MEA October performance
The Middle East/Africa region reported mostly positive performance results during October 2011 when reported in U.S. dollars, according to data compiled by STR Global
, sister company of HotelNewsNow.com. 

The region ended the month with a 3.4% decrease in occupancy to 63.4%, a 7.3% rise in average daily rate to US$169.42 and a 3.6% increase in revenue per available room to US$107.37.

“Across the Middle East, demand continued to improve with a 12% growth against October 2010, supply growth remained around the 5% mark, providing the subregion with its first double-digit RevPAR growth of the year,” Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global, said in a news release. “Northern Africa’s trading continued to be difficult with declining demand resulting in declining occupancy and average room rates. Southern Africa, on the contrary, reported demand, occupancy and RevPAR growth.”

UAE performance on the rise
Hotel performance in the United Arab Emirates is expected to grow until at least the Dubai Shopping Festival in February, according to the Khaleej Times.

The performance is being driven by meetings, exhibitions and big sports events, said Sunny Augustine, executive director and CEO of Dubai-based White Sands Tours.

In October, Dubai hotels showed a 13.5% RevPAR gain, according to STR Global.

“Most hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi show occupancy levels as high as 85%. We believe this upward momentum to continue with the tourist season getting into full swing,” Augustine said.

Syrian tourism faces difficult road
The tourism industry in Syria is in for a rough time ahead, according to albawaba.com.

The country has been beset by violence for several months and now faces sanctions that include a halt to commercial flights to the country.

"The current situation presents all the conditions that are adverse for the hospitality industry: stalled international leisure tourism; reduced business travel and tourism," said Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, executive VP, head of hotel advisory at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Middle East and Africa. "It is undoubtedly an extremely difficult time for the hospitality industry in Syria, especially because the winter season is usually the tour season in the region …"

MiddleEastAfrica Ad Will Appear Here

MEA October pipeline
The Middle East/Africa hotel development pipeline comprises 471 hotels totaling 128,969 rooms, according to the October 2011 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report.

Among the chain-scale segments, the upper-upscale segment accounted for the largest portion of rooms in the total active pipeline with 31.3% and 40,411 rooms. Two other segments each accounted for 20% or more of rooms in the total active pipeline: the luxury segment (20.3% with 26,132) and the unaffiliated segment (20.2% with 25,999 rooms).

Sun Resorts Q3 results
Mauritius-based Sun Resorts Limited, which owns five hotels, reported a third-quarter loss of 172.5 million rupees (US$5.9 million) during the quarter. That represents a 29.5% decline, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek

“The resurgence of the Eurozone economic crisis and high airfares out of Europe continue to impact heavily on the industry in Mauritius,” the company said in a statement.

Morocco’s building boom
The major hotel chains are staking their claims in Morocco, lured by the country’s cultural assets and government-backed tourism industry.

Accor, for example, expects to open 20 hotels within the next five years in the key cities of Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat, Marrakech and Agadir. The majority of those will be in the economy segment, though the company also is developing two Sofitels and one Pullman in Marrakech, said Christian Rousseau, COO of Accor Morocco.

“The government in Morocco has been very supportive of the hospitality industry with a clear focus where it wants to build and position the industry and country going forward into the future,” Peter Norman, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s senior VP of acquisitions and development, EMEA, wrote in an email.

Bomb threat lifted
The United States embassy has lifted its previously issued warning that terrorist groups might attack three hotels in Abuja, Nigeria, according to Reuters.

The hotels that were included in the bomb threat warning were: the NICON Luxury, Sheraton and Transcorp Hilton hotels.

Openings, development, deals
• Accor has opened the 121-room ibis budget property in Tangier, Morocco, the company’s first ibis budget property.
• Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has opened the 260-room Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra, Ghana.
• Best Western International has begun construction on its first two Iraq hotels in Erbil: the 82-room Best Western Premier Erbil Airport is expected to open in 2013 and the 160-room Best Western Erbil in the city center is expected to open during the first quarter of 2014, according to Hotelier Middle East

• Rotana opened the 229-room Centro al Manhal Abu Dhabi, its fourth Centro by Rotana hotel in the emirate, according to Hotelier Middle East.
• Morgans Hotel Group Company closed on its approximately US$300-million sale of the Sanderson and St Martins Lane hotels to Middle Eastern investor Capital Hill Hotels Limited.
• Rocco Forte Hotels opened the Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi, a 281-room property.
• Meliá Hotels International signed its fourth hotel in Cape Verde, its first on the island of Boa Vista: the 850-room Meliá White Sands.

Compiled by Shawn A. Turner.

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