AHIC briefing says diversification is key to the future
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.
That was the conclusion of a regional briefing held in Doha last month, at which hoteliers, owners and hospitality investors discussed the content of this year’s AHIC, which takes place from 25-27 April at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai and has the theme “Catalysts of change’.
Andrew Humphries, chief operating officer of Katara Hospitality, who will be speaking at AHIC 2017, said: “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.”
Humphries said the diversification of the GCC hospitality sector would be a key theme at AHIC, explaining that it was essential at all levels and that business models needed to more flexible.
“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,” he added.
Mohamed Al Mahmeed, head of Tourism Investment Promotion at Qatar Tourism Authority, said the Emirate had a clear strategy to develop a sustainable tourism industry through to 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,” he explained. “The focus for us moving forward is to support the diversification of the hospitality sector’s offering and the development of new tourism products.”
Saahil Lalit, Colliers International associate director, Hotels, said another key theme of the conference would be asset management.
“With revenues falling, we need to discuss how we can get more out of our properties,” he said, calling on the hospitality sector to respond to the rise in popularity of Airbnb in the region “which can add significant volume to the market at short notice, and at low prices”.