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RSP Group survey ranks UAE as the most strategic GCC hospitality investment destination

United Arab Emirates: Sunday, April 30 - 2006 @ 17:31

An in-depth investor survey was conducted by RSP Group alongside a detailed in-house analysis of the hospitality sector to assess investment opportunities and map the most lucrative destinations among the GCC countries. Over 150 senior members representing leading names in the hospitality sector who are attending the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference took part in the investor survey.

Revealing details of the survey, Mr. Blair Hagkull, Managing Partner, RSP Group, said,

“The results of the investor survey provide important insights into the future trends we can expect to emerge in the next few years, for example paralleling the boom in the regional real estate market almost 25% of regional industry leaders plan for their companies to go public to meet expansion plans in the next two years.”

Mr. Hagkull also observed that from a hospitality product perspective, ‘economy hotels’ are tipped to offer the highest potential growth opportunities in the next 3 to 5 years followed by boutique hotels. While the ‘mass tourism’ sector will drive demand, ‘adventure & eco tourism’ are fast catching up. The survey also throws light on the potential of the outbound Asian tourism market to help drive future demand in the GCC.

Based on its own analysis of the GCC hospitality market, RSP Group has identified the UAE as the most competitive and dynamic destination, ranking it the highest with a score of 4.2 out of 5 in the RSP Group Hospitality MarketWatch survey. The second position has been taken by Oman, which scored 3.7 in the survey. The survey, the first of its kind in the GCC, evaluates the investment potential of GCC countries based on 10 key indicators that measure the comparative future hospitality investment environment.

Elaborating on the vibrant growth of UAE’s hospitality sector, Mr. Hagkull said: “The rapid pace of economic diversification focussing on the services industry has fuelled the growth of the hospitality sector. An increasing flow of business and leisure travellers to the UAE has contributed to impressive room occupancies, encouraging an expansion in the portfolio of hotels and hotel apartments. The UAE has also emerged as an alternative destination for luxury property developers and high net worth individuals seeking to channel funds invested elsewhere back into the region.”

Aside from stepping up economic diversification, initiatives such as aggressive marketing strategies, festivals, and the hosting of trade fairs and major regional events have also added to the UAE’s appeal as a favoured tourist destination, stabilizing a previously seasonal market.

Referring to the overall GCC market, Mr. Hagkull said that market opportunities across the region have created competitive advantages over the mature markets of Europe and North America. Diversified product offerings, increased global awareness of the GCC as a tourism destination and rising intra-regional travel, have unleashed significant investment opportunities for strategic hospitality investors.

What sets the UAE and Oman apart from their neighbours is the opportunity in the emerging Northern Emirates and Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Muscat and Salalah in Oman. “The potential to develop beach tourism to complement a strong corporate demand is gaining momentum, and both countries are working hard to position themselves as tourism destinations on a global scale. The governments in both the UAE and Oman are supportive; the regulatory environment is easing and prime land is accessible,” Mr. Hagkull added.

Following closely behind, Bahrain and Qatar tied with a score of 3.3, also offer significant potential for hospitality investment. Both countries present an opportunity to diversify their product offering to include products that attract larger foreign leisure and incentives markets. Bahrain and Qatar will be sufficiently supplied in the medium term to meet corporate demand from their respective financial and gas sectors, but are slow to develop leisure offerings.

While KSA has the potential to develop a lucrative tourism market, the diversity in its product offering is still challenged. Although the government has increased Umrah visitation to 9 months in the year, and has eased visa restrictions, there is still strong seasonality in the market. Attracting international demand for corporate and leisure products will remain KSA’s challenge in the coming years.

The indicators used in RSP Hospitality MarketWatch measure revenue growth;, depth of tourism product; tourism fundamentals including infrastructure, ease of travel, tourism marketing, and industry regulation; the future supply and demand scenarios; access to land; cost of construction; ease of hiring staff; operating performance; seasonality; and opportunities for niche market products.

RSP Group is the largest, regionally-based real estate investment advisory organization in the Middle East. Over the past year RSP Group has worked in 20 Middle East – North African countries on real estate and hospitality developments in excess of US $80 billion.

RSP Group’s core advisory services include Development Advisory, Project Financing, Asset Management and Fund Development, and Asset Acquisitions and Disposals. RSP Group has provided strategic advisory services on many of the region’s largest and most prestigious real estate and hospitality developments. Its ‘blue chip’ client base is comprised of many of the leading international and regional banks, real estate developers, and investors throughout the Middle East.

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Sunday, April 30- 2006 @ 17:31 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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