DUBAI: Radisson is pushing ahead with plans to deliver five new hotels in Saudi Arabia this year, despite a global slowdown in the hospitality sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Radisson Hotel Group has announced eight new ventures between the UAE and the Kingdom, as the US chain doubles down on its Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) expansion with 5,000 rooms planned across the region.
“The Middle East and Africa are two key development areas and our ambitions across the region have remained the same,” Tim Cordon, Area Senior Vice President Middle East & Africa of Radisson Hotel Group, said.
Saudi Arabia, in particular, is a special market for Radisson, Cordon said, as half of its Middle East portfolio in operation and under development is in the Kingdom.
“We operate over 20 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments with over 3,500 keys in KSA today – with a pipeline doubling our portfolio by 2025,” he added.
The move comes as the hospitality industry struggles to recover from the blow of the global health crisis, which saw the industry incur massive losses in 2020.
But preliminary data from STR showed some signs of optimism for the Middle East’s hospitality industry.
While occupancy rates worldwide declined, the region was the highest on a rolling 7-day average ending with Feb. 7 at 50.4 percent.
Hotels in Al-Khobar, Dammam, and Jeddah have seen steady occupancy improvement in January, coinciding with new year celebrations.
Jeddah recorded a 62 percent occupancy rate during the period, and Al-Khobar and Dammam’s stood at 72 percent.
The positive outlook in the region could be attributed to mass vaccination drives. Gulf countries were among the first in the world to launch national inoculation programs to accelerate their return to normality amid the pandemic.