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Madinah Al-Munawwarah has the potentials to become a regional hub for heritage and eco-tourism: OIC

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(Madinah Al-Munawwarah-News Halal) The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen stressed that Madinah Al-Munawwarah has the potentials to become a regional hub for heritage and eco-tourism, considering its peculiar ecological attractions, historical landmarks and opportunities for desert safari.

This was contained in his statement on the occasion of the inauguration of Madinah Al-Munawwarah as the capital of Islamic Tourism 2017 on Saturday 18 February 2017 under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, President & Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and was attended by His Royal Highness, Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Medina province and head of Tourism Development in the province.

The uk-roids.com government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has organised flurry of activities to celebrate Madinah as the capital of Islamic Tourism 2017 in addition to commissioning about 30 projects designed for the occasion among them launching of a tourist bus service to transport tourist across the historical sites of Madinah Al-Munawwarah in addition to commissioning a railway project and the launch of a program to preserve, restore and rehabilitate the historic mosques contained in Madinah Al-Munawwarah.

The OIC Secretary General felicitated with the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the decision of the OIC to grant Madinah Al-Munawwarah the award of capital of Islamic Tourism for the year 2017, stressing that the granting of the third edition of the award to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah is indeed a clear testimony to the importance of the holy city in the realm of heritage and eco-tourism, in addition to its character as a preferred destination for Muslim pilgrims.

Al-Othaimeen also noted that the objective of establishing the award is to bring to the fore the growing importance of tourism in the cooperation framework of the Organisation, highlighting the OIC’s strategy for scaling up Islamic tourism through the development of tourism infrastructures, new investments in family-friendly hotels and leisure facilities.

It is worth noting that Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah was selected the ‘Capital of Islamic Tourism 2017’ during the 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) held in December 2015 in Niamey, Niger, and was confirmed by the 43rd Session of the council of Foreign Ministers Of the Organization held at Tashkent, the Republic of Uzbekistan in October 2016.

Turkey expects to welcome over 226 million air passengers annually by 2019

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(Ankara-News Halal-21 Feb 2017) Rapid political stability and steady economic developments in Turkey attracting many more tourists as the country expects to welcome over 226 million air passengers annually by 2019, up 30 percent over last year, according to officially revised figures published on Daily Sabah released Monday.

The 174 million passengers Turkey welcomed in 2016, including direct transit passengers, are expected to rise 8.4 percent to reach 188.6 million at the end of the year, said the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMI).

That figure is expected to climb to some 205 million in 2018 and 226.6 million in 2019, according to directorate figures.

The largest increase is expected to be in the number of international passengers, rising 41 percent from 71 million last year to over 100 million in 2019.

The number of domestic air passengers is also expected to rise 22.8 percent to reach 126.1 million in the next three years.

The authority expects airplane traffic including overflights to rise to 1.95 million by the end of the year from 1.829 million flights in 2016, increasing to 2.13 million in 2018 and 2.3 million in 2019.

Air cargo traffic in the country is also expected to rise to over 4 million tons in 2019 from around 2.9 million tons in 2016, according to the authority.

Tourists in Turkey spent $5.1 billion on food last year

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(Istanbul-NewsHalal-24 Fewb 2017) Last year tourists spent more than 5 billion dollars on food and beverages in Turkey, according to information gathered from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).

According to the report published by Daily Sabah, TurkStat revealed that tourist expenditures totaled $22.1 billion, of which about $3.6 billion was spent on package tours. Food and beverages took the largest percent of personal expenditures with $5.1 billion, followed by $3.3 billion on international transportation and $2.5 billion spent on accommodation.

Additionally, tourists spent $1.8 billion on domestic transportation, $715 million on healthcare, $295 million on sports, education and culture and $55 million on tour services. Visitors didn’t leave the country empty handed; they also spent $87 million on carpets and rugs.

Sampling the cuisine is certainly a draw to many “foodie travelers,” who come to Turkey to try local favorites such as the Iskender kebab, cig kofte and of course, baklava. Başak Turkoglu, Turkey’s Ambassador to Malaysia told Anadolu Agency about how she sees food as a way to boost ties between countries, adding that many Malaysian tourists had fallen in love with Turkish food during their visits.

“There is a big market. We need restaurants that offer an elegant presentation of food and good quality Ottoman and traditional Turkish cuisines,” said Turkoglu.

While Turkey’s tourism revenue fell significantly in 2016, restaurant owners can help to restore that number one bite at a time.

Turkey tourism sector expecting 5 million Russian tourists in 2017

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(Istanbul-NewsHalal-21 Feb 2017) Turkish tourism experts forecast a tremendous increase in the number of Russian tourists this year, with about 5 million people expected to visit the country.

According to the report published by Turkey`s newspaper Daily Sabah, tourism sector representatives from 10 different countries gathered in Russian capital Moscow on Saturday to discuss the most recent upcoming trends in the sector at the World Tourism Forum’s Russia Summit 2017, for which Turkuvaz Medya was the media sponsor. More than 350 participants including heads of tourism agencies, tour operators, hotel chains and transport companies from countries like Turkey, Russia, Spain, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Greek Cyprus participated in the event to discover new ideas that would help grow their businesses.

Russian tourists have been visiting Turkey for over 25 years as the warm beaches in the country have always appealed to the cold country’s people. In 2014, the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey peaked at 4.5 million, making Russia second on the list on Turkey’s arrivals list. However, the number declined to 3.6 million in 2015 and plummeted further in 2016 to approximately 800,000 – December’s data has not yet been announced – after the Nov. 24, 2015 incident in which Turkish F-16 jets downed a Russian Su-24 bomber for violating Turkey’s airspace. Moscow implemented sanctions on Turkish goods and refused work permits to Turkish workers, and the Russian government also called on its citizens to not travel to Turkey.

Fortunately, with the normalization of relations, the Turkish tourism sector now has higher hopes about Russia. Turkish organizers of the World Tourism Forum preferred to hold the summit in Moscow, after organizing one in Antalya last month, giving the message that they missed their Russian visitors and their visitors also missed them.

LOCAL CURRENCIES IN TOURISM

About two months ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the beginning of a new period for foreign trade transactions in which local currencies will be used to obviate the pressure of exchange rates, securing a prompt response from the Russian Central Bank.

The president’s call has turned into action between the Russian and Turkish central banks as they have built the infrastructure to make the transactions possible and also motivated banks and companies to produce alternative services like Turkey’s Deniz Bank, which is owned by Russian Sberbank. Deniz Bank CEO Hakan Ateş said that they have already established call center services in Russian language and ATMs that withdraw rubles are now available. He also said that they are working with tour operators and hotels to make payments in Turkish lira and Russian ruble. “Russians will feel at home in Turkey,” Ates said.

TOURISM FORUM IN SIX COUNTRIES

World Tourism Forum Chairman Bulut Bagcı said the summit gathered together leading tourism companies from Russia and Turkey to provide them a platform to discuss upcoming potential. Pointing to the sessions in the summit, Bagcı said the event was also aimed at discovering more about the Russian market. The summit itself created $7 million in trade volume, the forum chairman stated.

The World Tourism Forum’s main event will be held in Istanbul on Feb. 16-18. “As of today, we have more than 3,000 participants registered for the event in Istanbul,” Bagcı noted. Another summit will follow Istanbul on April 24 in Dubai. “Besides creating dynamism for the tourism sector, we are aiming to create a total trade volume of $1 billion by organizing events in Europe, Africa, the U.S., Asia, the Middle East and in Turkey and Russia as our special markets,” Bagcı said.

80% of hotel rooms in Makkah reserved

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(Makkah Al Mukarramah-NewsHalal, 13 Ramadan,1437 AH, 18 June 2016) Reservations at hotels in the central area in Makkah registered their highest operational capacity this year, and reached their peak during Ramadan, with 80 percent reservations for all rooms and hotel suites.

According to Eye of Riyadh news, specialists in the hotel market said that the paid reservations reached 124,000 rooms, of a total of 155,000 rooms in the central area for the first 10 days of Ramadan, with a total value of SR1 billion.

The director of reservations and marketing at a hotel in the central area, Rida Shalabi, quoted as saying the paid rates for hotel rooms reached 80 percent from the total hotel rooms of 810, for prices that varied between SR1,950 and SR2,500 for one room, including breakfast for the first 10 days of Ramadan. Prices for a double room reached SR1,950; a room for three people reached SR2,200; and a room for four people reached SR2,500.

He said prices for the last 10 days of Ramadan start at SR29,000 for two people, SR32,000 for three people, and SR36,000 for four people including breakfast. He said reservations for the whole hotel during the last days of the holy month reached 100 percent. All rooms were reserved during Shaban.

A receptionist in one of the hotels in the central area, Mansour Al-Harbi, was also quoted as saying the the reservation rates are very high this year at 85 percent in comparison with the same period last year, when it stood at 70 percent. He said smart applications and communication networks helped people to complete their reservations earlier than usual.

12 Dubai Hotels Win at Middle East Hotel Awards 2016

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(Dubai-NewsHalal, 19 Sha`ban,1437 AH, 26 May 2016)Twelve Dubai hotels won across 24 award categories to dominate the Middle East Hotel Awards 2016 this week.

A total of 70 hotels and hotel suppliers from across the region were shortlisted. Other winners came from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

More than 400 hoteliers from throughout the Middle East attended the awards ceremony (24th May 2016) at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, which took away the award for Best New Hotel 2016.

Speaking at the venue, Sandra Tikal, General Manager of the Palazzo Versace Dubai described the award-winning new hotel as an “urban resort” as well as a “true European palace with an Arabic edge”.

Christopher Hewett, Best New Hotel explosiveworkouttraining.net judge for 2016 commented: “There were high expectations for Palazzo Versace Dubai and it didn’t disappoint. The high quality and attention to sustanon 250 online detail is synonymous with the Versace brand and this hotel is not different. Although the hotel is of the highest quality in terms of design and finishing, what stands about with this property is the exceptional level of service. The team members throughout the hotel really went above and beyond with warm and engaging service which solidified their position as the best new hotel in the Middle East.”

Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, which unveiled its US $100 million (AED368m) refurbishment in 2015, won across two categories: Best Hotel Suite and Best Hotel Renovation/Refurbishment. The hotel boasts unique ‘Aspen Chalets’ with rustic interiors, ‘crackling fireplaces’ and views of the Ski Dubai indoor ski slope, for an exclusive ‘winter wonderland’ in the desert.

Level 43 Sky Lounge, Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road won the Best Middle East Hotel Bar award for the 2nd year running. A pool bar by day and lounge bar by night, judges commented that the spectacular, 360 degree views of Dubai’s skyline and personalised service could not be paralleled.

Dubai winners in new award categories introduced for 2016 included: Atlantis the Palm, Dubai (Best Family-Friendly Hotel); Huddle Sports Bar & Grill, Citymax, Al Barsha (Best Sports Bar); and Asado at The Palace Downtown (Best Al Fresco Dining Experience).

Other, coveted new award categories for 2016 were won by hotels in Ras Al Khaimah (Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah – Best Luxury Hotel) and Bahrain (CUT by Wolfgang Puck at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay – Best Fine Dining Restaurant).

The remaining Dubai winners for 2016 included: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa (Best Outdoor Area); InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City (Best Conference & Banquet Facilities); Citymax Al Barsha (Best Budget Hotel); XVA Art Hotel, Dubai (Best Boutique Hotel); Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai (Best Business Hotel 4*); Sofitel The Palm Dubai (Best Hotel 5*); and Savoy Suites Hotel Apartments Dubai (Best Eco Initiative).

Other 2016 winners from hotels outside Dubai included: Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport (Best Airport Hotel); Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay (Best Lobby/Lounge); InterContinental Al Khobar Hotel, Saudi Arabia (Best Community Engagement); Shangri-la, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi (Best Hotel Apartment); Al Faisaliah Hotel (Best Business Hotel 5*); Banyan Tree Al Wadi (Best Resort Hotel); Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi (Best Hotel 4*); and the Best Hotel Partner award for 2016 went to Kazareen Textile Company.

After the presentation of the ‘Best Eco Initiative’ award, its category sponsor MODUL University Dubai made an announcement launching the Middle East Sustainable Tourism Education and Research Center (MESTER). The first Center of its kind to be established in the Middle East, MESTER “supports the region’s efforts in driving sustainable tourism through investment in education scholarships, research grants and entrepreneurship support”.

Other sponsors for 2016 event included: Khaled Ahmad Foudeh (KAF); Fiore Rosso; Mai Dubai; Giffard; Desert Stallion by CWS; Patchi; and Tonino Lamborghini.

Halal tourism spending to reach $200 billion by 2020

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(Dubai-NewsHalal, Sha’ban 1, 1437, May 08, 2016) Halal tourism numbers are expected to hit 150 million in traveler’s volume and collectively spend an estimated $200 billion by 2020, revealed “Halal Travel 2016″ report conducted by UK-based research firm Context Consulting and commissioned by Amadeus, and presented at Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market.

Arabian Travel Market is the market leading, international travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. Tourism destinations from around the world showcase a diverse range of accommodation options, breathtaking tourism attractions, travel technology and key airline routes.

The study gives an insight into the current needs and future expectations of this travel group whose importance is growing globally.
The Amadeus report on Halal travelers highlights three core themes that span the key drivers of travel: cultural experiences, accommodation needs, and activity preferences.

According to the report Halal seekers plan their trip to maximize “cultural return on investment” while their trends are as follow;
* Halal travelers often adopt a hyper-planning holiday mode
* Women have real influence in the travel experience
* Travelers are more motivated to use agents for complex trips
* Halal travelers like packages, but find them basic and inflexible

The report further stated that the Halal travelers want to choose Halal-friendly accommodation that gives them freedom.
* Apartments or chain hotels are preferred by Halal travelers
* Many hotels currently fail to meet prayer and dining requirements
* Hotels and resorts must support travelers’ ‘cultural comfort’
* Women struggle to find relevant hotel facilities

The report emphasizes that at their destination, halal travelers want to explore within their comfort zone.
* Halal travelers have specific activity and excursion needs: in relation to transportation, praying facilities or dining
* Limited dining options are an issue for halal travelers: they want to have dining alternatives. Some want high end or gourmet options. Others want to be able to experience local cuisine in a Halal way.
* Halal travelers have special transportation needs at their destination: Private drivers in particular appeal to husbands who are sometimes concerned about not looking an ‘expert’ in a country and a private driver helps avoid this.

* Additional destination services are motivating to Halal travelers.
Other findings point to the influential role of women in the travel decision process, planning and some of the logistics; halal travelers wish to discover and unlock untapped destinations and a clear differentiation in travel preferences, depending on their kind of profile: Comfort, Explorer, Core Family, Extended Family, Deal-Seeker, and Simplicity-Seeker.

Since Halal travelers frequently originate from the Middle Eastern region, there is a premium placed on human interaction, travel agencies, tour operators and consultants play a key role in supporting the travel planning. The halal travelers’ motives and context need to be understood to create the right travel package, and this is particularly relevant when planning complex multi-destination trips. There is a clear preference for booking all travel, tours, and accommodation in advance, as families and groups do not favor the uncertainty of unplanned trips.

Recent figures have shown that the halal tourism sector was valued at $145bn in 2014, and is one of the fastest growing travel segments in the world, growing at 4.8 per cent against the industry average of 3.8 per cent. Economic growth in the Islamic world have given rise to a Muslim consumer who is, on average, younger, more educated, and with a larger disposable income than before, giving rise to an increased propensity to international travel and holidays.

Antoine Medawar, Vice President Middle East and North Africa, at Amadeus, quoted as saying: “Halal travelers are a demographic that represents a powerful opportunity. This is a group of individuals and families that have certain unique requirements of their destinations and travel service offering.

The Amadeus -commissioned Halal Travel 2016 study uncovered some of the key areas that the industry can work with this segment on, as well as some of the additional offerings that will serve to enhance the customer’s travel experience, and thereby lead to higher spending”.

New academy in Saudi Arabia to train youths for tourism jobs

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(Jeddah-NewsHalal, Jumada Al-Akhir 9, 1437, March 18, 2016) The Saudi Academy for Event, Conventions and Conferences will be launched in September this year to groom young talent for tourism sector jobs and the sector’s requirements.

According to the eye of Riyadh, this academy, which will be the first of its kind in the Middle East, will focus on the development of human resources in the Kingdom in order to become one of the key supporting sources for the convention and exhibition sector.

Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman, who also heads the supervising committee of the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB), made this announcement after chairing the 10th meeting of the committee here at SCTNH headquarters, the media department said.

Prince Sultan said that the academy will be a Riyadh-based joint stock company. The National Center for Tourism Human Resources Development (Takamul) has contributed to its support and establishment.

Prince Sultan commended the people who undertook the establishment and operation of this academy, stressing the importance of capacity building of Saudi citizens in this sector, and allowing job seekers to become investors in small and medium services in this important economic sector.

On the potential of finding specialized cities for conventions and exhibitions, the SCTNH president said that efforts are underway in collaboration with the General Authority for Civil Aviation to find cities for conventions and exhibitions with access to major airports.
At the forefront of them are King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah and a city for conventions and exhibitions at Souk Okaz in the resort city of Taif.

The SCTNH chief expressed his hope that this sector will witness a quantum leap in the next few years, especially in light of the economic growth that the Kingdom is experiencing and the great attention toward the convention and exhibition industry by public and private authorities.
During the meeting, the first ever program of service applications on mobile devices was launched.

The supervising committee meeting also approved the SECB plan for 2016-2018 and also approved a bill of policies and procedures for holding conferences in the Kingdom and posting them on the SECB website for feedback from the concerned sector.

Arab tourists prefer Turkey for its highlands and health tourism

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(Istanbul-NewsHalal, Jumada al-ula 13, 1437, February 22, 2016) More than 7.5 million Arab tourists have traveled to Turkey in the last three years, with Iraqi tourists accounting for the biggest share followed by Lebanese, Saudi, Algerian, Egyptian and Jordanian tourists.

According to report published by Daily Sabah, Arab tourists mostly prefer green and chilly destinations as well as popular coastal cities and districts in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions like Muğla, Antalya and Marmaris. Traveling to Turkey in either large groups or with families, they do not return home without visiting Istanbul for luxury shopping and accommodation opportunities. Northern Turkey is also their next favorite spot for travel and settling in, including the cities of Bolu, Trabzon and Yalova.

During the January-July 2015 period, Saudi Arabians topped the list of the number of Arab tourists visiting Istanbul with 254,825 people. The Black Sea region and the Antalya province is the choice of Arab tourists in the Middle east for health tourism after Istanbul. Many Arab tourists visit the hot springs around Turkey for their health benefits. Iraqi tourists frequently come to Turkey for surgery – cosmetic surgery in particular – due to recent developments in this field. Among Arab countries, tourists from Sudan, Bahrain and Yemen compose the lowest number. Additionally, Istanbul is the first choice among African Arab tourists.

In 2014, Arab tourists spent around $3,000 per person while Saudis visiting Turkey in the summer months last year spent 93.7 million euros in total, indicating a 72 percent increase compared to the previous year. In contrast, local tourists spent $1,150 per person in 2014, while other foreign tourists spent $749.

Three years ago, Turkey attracted more than 2 million Arab tourists, and this number has increased each year – experiencing a more than 20 percent increase in 2014. Last year, around a 19 percent increase was observed, and even more Arab tourists are expected to travel to Turkey. Based on the report of the Eastern Black Sea Development Agency (DOKA), international tourists from Arab Gulf countries compose 75 percent of the share of total tourism expenditures.

Link of original news by Daily Sabah: https://www.dailysabah.com/tourism/2016/02/18/arab-tourists-prefer-turkey-for-its-highlands-and-health-tourism

Saudi tourism market valued at 45.3 billion dollars, popular among GCC visitors

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(Jeddah-NewsHalal, Jumada al-ula 3, 1437, February 12, 2016) Tourists or visitors from GCC countries to Saudi Arabia increased by 25% as the Kingdom remains popular destination for the region`s travellers.

According to a newly published report by Arabian Travel Market, around 7.4 million visitors entering the Kingdom in the first six months of 2015, which represented an increase of 25% against the same period in 2014, according to official data from the Saudi Commission esteroides-anabolicos.co for Tourism & National Heritage – a fact that will underpin the Kingdom’s presence at this year’s Arabian Travel Market.

A total of 2.1 million visitors were ‘day visitors’ with the remaining 5.2 million spending nearly SR11.8 billion and accounting for 30.5 million room nights. In 2014, 6.6 million Gulf tourists visited Saudi Arabia, spending SR22 billion, the report said.

Bahraini and Kuwaiti visitors accounted for a large percentage of total inbound GCC visitor numbers, with 33% each, followed by Qatar and the UAE.

Saudi exhibitors at Arabian Travel Market 2106 will also highlight the future of tourism in the country, which has some $11.6 billion worth of tourism projects currently underway.

Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market was quoted as saying that “A recent report by the Saudi Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that tourism contributed 2.7% of the country’s GDP, with 2014 tourism receipts totaling around $45.3 billion. While the bulk of this comes from Haj and Umrah travel, which accounted for almost $27 billion, this clearly demonstrates the strong domestic travel market within the Kingdom, as well as the growing business travel segment”.

“Hajj and Umrah travel is also an opportunity for additional revenue generation, with the authorities reportedly keen to encourage visitors to extend their stay and discover all that Saudi Arabia has to offer from a leisure perspective. And with forecasted visitor numbers to the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah set to rise from 12 million to 17 million visitors per annum by 2025, there is plenty of opportunity for the country’s tourism sector to benefit,” she added.

Arabian Travel Market 2016 will build on the success of the previous edition with the announcement of an additional hall as RTE looks to add to its record-breaking achievements. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 15% to over 26,000, with the number of exhibiting companies rising by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than $2.5 billion were signed over the four days.

According to a report, more than 5,300 hotel keys are expected to enter Jeddah’s hospitality market in the next three years.

According to a report released by Colliers International, a leader in real estate services industry, the fourth quarter of 2015 witnessed the opening of three internationally branded serviced apartments, all of which are operated by The Ascott Ltd., namely the Ascott Tahlia (125 keys), the Ascott Sari (52 keys), and the Citadines Al-Salamah (136 keys).

If oil prices continue to decline, it is expected that demand for hospitality accommodation will shift toward establishments with more affordable room rates.
The report also said that Makkah is expected to reach 25,519 branded hotel keys by 2018 despite delays in hotel openings seen in the past. The expected supply is more than double that seen in 2015.

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