The third annual edition of the Saudi Arabia Hospitality Investment Conference is being held at Riyadh Airport Marriott Hotel.
The event will bring together more than 350 dignitaries, developers, investors, hotel owners and operators to discuss the future of the kingdom’s ever-growing hotel market in light of the event theme, ‘Transform Tomorrow’.
Hosted by Dur Hospitality, organised by Semark and co-organised by Bench Events and Meed, SHIC features more than 90 high-profile speakers from companies paving the way in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality investment industry.
Companies participating this year include the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Al Hokair Group, Amaala, the Red Sea Development Company and Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
Jonathan Worsley, chairman of Bench Events and founder of SHIC, said: “We are excited to kick-off 2020 with the third edition of SHIC, which comes following a pivotal year for the Saudi Arabian hospitality industry.
“The launch of tourist visas in September last year marked the kingdom’s intention to become a global tourism destination and we are proud to be bringing together the tourism officials, hotel owners and operators working to make this a reality.”
Expressing his honour at hosting SHIC for the third consecutive year, Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Issa, chairman of Dur Hospitality in turn stated that the rising number of visitors to Saudi Arabia has paved way for quality, authenticity and variety among the kingdom’s hospitality offering.
“While the tourism industry continues to flourish and is expected to increase its contribution to the kingdom’s GDP by eight per cent by 2030, we will continue to grow our diversified portfolio, which currently includes over 20 properties, operates 3047 rooms, in addition to several new projects underway.
“Our expansion plans seek to keep up with the demand of the industry and utilise the increased potential it poses with an investment of SAR 1.5billion (US$400 million) to almost double our portfolio within the next four years,” Al-Issa added.
Within the first month of launching the visa, more than 55,000 tourist visas were issued, providing a glimpse into the huge latent potential of the sector.
John Pagano, chief executive of the Red Sea Development Company, added: “The uptake of the new e-visa demonstrates the widespread interest global travellers have in visiting Saudi Arabia.
“The e-visa creates opportunities for guests of the Red Sea Project to visit other parts of the kingdom – and vice versa – making it easier to experience the unique beauty of our destination and be part of our commitment to enhance the natural environment.
“Through its introduction, the government is again demonstrating its commitment to make tourism a key pillar of the Kingdom’s economy.
“Visitors from around the world will experience the warm hospitality that Saudi Arabia offers and discover an unexplored part of the world.”
According to SCTH, more than 150,000 new hotel rooms will be built in Saudi Arabia over the next three years, around 30 per cent of which will be government funded while 70 per cent will be driven by the private sector.
Numerous international operators have signified their commitment to the kingdom – with both Hilton and Accor detailing their plans at SHIC today.
“With the direction Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is heading, tourism is expected to rise across existing and new segments fuelling demand for a variation of new accommodation options, example, family friendly hotels including mid-scale and luxury resorts, and extended-stay hotels,” remarked Pascal Gauvin, managing director, India, Middle East and Africa for IHG.
“We are in active discussions with strategic partners to bring new brands from our global brand portfolio, such as Regent Hotels and Resorts, Six Senses and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, to the Kingdom to cater to these tourists’ diverse needs and preferences.”
The SHIC programme will address various topics impacting the future growth of the hospitality sector, from asset management and franchising to sustainable luxury and artificial intelligence.
Find out more on the official website.