CAIRO: Marriott International Sales Office announced a 12 percent growth in sales for 2006 in the Middle East, Africa and the Subcontinent in comparison to 2005.
The increase was driven by a surge in inter-regional travel in the Business Transient and Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (Mice) categories. Changing patterns of consumer behavior also triggered the increase in revenues in 2006. Elaborating on the healthy performance in 2006, Samir Daqqaq, vice president of Marriott Global Sales Organization, Middle East, Africa and the sub-continent said, The regional hospitality business is witnessing a new wave of demand across the leisure, business and Mice categories. Within Business Transient, the region is seeing renewed interest in commercial centers such as Dubai, Doha and Riyadh. Within both the business and leisure categories, the revival of interest in United States marked a reversal of the trend that began with the stringent Visa regulations enforced after 9/11. In 2006, the number of visitors traveling to the UK was outstanding. Visitors from the Middle East were amongst the biggest contributors to Marriott s hotels in Vienna and London. Outside of the Middle East region, Daqqaq highlighted the emergence of Shanghai and Beijing, as business destinations for the Middle East. The robust growth in the Mice category in the Middle East also helped push Marriott s sales, Daqqaq said. The trend is especially distinct in the UAE and Saudi Arabia market, where Mice solutions are in high demand. As expected, our Marriott Executive Apartments and Courtyard brands in the Middle East are patronized by project managers associated with the construction and real estate industries. Aside from these, demand from the leisure category continues to grow at a rate of 19 percent. Properties in the Far East such as Shanghai, Koh Samui, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and European cities of London, Paris and Vienna continued to draw in visitors from the Middle East. Visitors to Marriott s properties in Egypt were largely from Saudi Arabia. Thailand s Marriott properties saw a phenomenal inflow of Middle Eastern tourists last year as the country, driven by aggressive marketing initiatives rolled out by the country and its national airline. Destination marketing initiatives supported by carriers or governmental initiatives always have a multiplier impact on the properties own initiatives to draw in interest from the Middle Eastern traveler, adds Daqqaq. The demand pattern is also witnessing a change – while shopping holidays are the preferred holiday format for the Middle Eastern consumer, the availability of an attached spa or a golf course is also a factor that influences decision making for leisure travel. This explains the popularity of spa destinations such as Koh Samui. One emerging contributor to the overall growth for Marriott s sales machinery is the Government sector. Marriott will shortly announce a slew of strategies to capitalize on the lodging opportunities within the sector.