The FINANCIAL -- Marriott International, Inc. is setting the stage for significant and ambitious growth within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region according to its president and chief executive officer, Arne Sorenson.
Visiting Dubai for both the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Mr. Sorenson outlined regional growth plans that anticipate growth of the company’s MEA portfolio to over 240 properties by 2020, with plans to add roughly 80 properties and almost 16,500 rooms. At present, the hotel company operates or franchises164 properties in the MEA region, across 9 brands in 17 countries.
During his time at ATM, Mr. Sorenson, along with His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of ASQ Hotels, also announced the signing of the company’s newest property, in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, the Ras Al Khaimah Marriott Resort. Due to open by 2019, the 300-room beach-front Marriott Hotel will be the first Marriott Hotels branded property in the emirate, reinforcing the company’s plan to increase its UAE footprint to 25 properties by 2020, according to Marriott International.
“The Middle East and Africa region offers a tremendous opportunity for Marriott International,” said Sorenson. “We have ambitious plans for growth internationally and the region will play a large part in helping us achieve both our short-term and long-term targets. By the end of this year we should surpass 1 million rooms open or in development worldwide, with new hotels expected to create 150,000 new hotel jobs as they open.”
Transcending borders as well as market segments, Marriott International’s MEA growth over the next few years should see, among other key areas, its footprint increase in the priority markets of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia with almost half of the properties set to open, located in these two countries. Within KSA, the hotel company expects to almost triple the size of its operations with the addition of over 4000 rooms across 20 hotels by 2020, building upon its current 1800 rooms across 8 properties.
Marriott International has also outlined its region-wide plan to strengthen the presence of its brand portfolio, particularly the Marriott Hotels brand. This year alone, the MEA region will see more Marriott Hotels opening than any other Marriott International brand and along with it, the introduction of the brand into three new MEA destinations including Fez, Morocco, where a 224-room property is set to open, and Constantine, Algeria, where a 244-room Marriott Hotel is opening. Rounding out the three new properties, the opening of the 426-room Marriott Hotel in Makkah in Saudi Arabia will also mark a significant milestone for the brand as its first-ever property in a holy city. By 2020, the brand should see 20 Marriott Hotels open across the region.
Supporting this growth, Marriott International is projecting to increase its MEA base of talent to 21,000 Associates by 2018.
“Our growth and success to date within the Middle East and Africa is in large part to the members of our team, our associates, who by 2018 are projected to be 21,000 strong within the region,” Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Marriott International Middle East and Africa. “It is our associates - those who strive day in and day out to care, help and assist in every possible way - that make the company the very best it can be.”
Along with key growth within the UAE and KSA and following last year’s acquisition of Protea Hospitality, Africa will also remain a key priority for the company with openings set to take place in Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2015. Four new Protea properties are also expected to open in Cape Town, South Africa this year, further solidifying the hotel company’s position as the largest hotel operator on the continent. Within Egypt, we are growing with the recent signing of the iconic Mena House and the opening of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, boosted by the recent regional announcement of the #Activ8Egypt campaign, which reinforces the company’s commitment to the revival of Egypt’s tourism sector.