DUBAI: French hotel and services group Accor (ACCP.PA), which recently posted better-than-expected first-quarter results, said on Monday it saw room for further growth in certain "hot spots" in the Middle East and North Africa, China and India.
Syria and Saudi Arabia were key areas where Accor, which has a pipeline of 20 hotels in the Middle East including Egypt, sees opportunity for growth, Christian Karaoglanian, chief development officer of Accor Hospitality told Reuters.
"Saudi might be the most attractive county for development in the Middle East … there’s still room for growth for all brands, particularly budget," Karaoglanian said.
"Potentially, we feel there’s room for a dozen of properties in the next two-to-three years," he added. Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, suffers from a shortage of hotel units, and is developing its hospitality sector to meet growing demand for domestic, regional and religious tourism.
"Syria, there’s real change that may bring about a new era for tourism," said Karaoglanian, adding the hotel market was undersupplied. "We see eight-10 hotels in the next five-10 years."
Additionally, Abu Dhabi could do with up to six more hotels, and Qatar up to four, he said.
Accor, the world’s fourth-largest hotel group, has a network of 33 hotels in the Middle East, excluding Egypt, and targets a total of 50 hotels by end-2012.
In the next five years, Accor plans to open 3,000 rooms per year in the Middle East and Egypt, Karaoglanian said.
Globally, the company plans to bring to the market 35-40,000 rooms per year, including new and converted developments, Karaoglanian said, adding that China and India are key markets for expansions.
"A lot of Chinese investors want to invest in hotels and we regularly sign new contracts," he said. "We can increase our presence by 20 hotels a year for the next 10 years."
India, another big focus area for Accor, is also an undersupplied market with only 125,000 rooms, said Karaoglanian.
"There is a tremendous market for all brands. We have far fewer players than in China," he said. "We should open an average of 10-12 hotels a year for the next 10 years."
Accor invests €200 million-250 million ($266 million-$333 million) in hotel development per year, with 25 percent in Asia, mainly India, said Karaoglanian.