New travel trends force Mediterranean hoteliers to adapt

High demand from China is changing nature of hotel industry, expert says at Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders conference

New travel trends force Mediterranean hoteliers to adapt


Hoteliers in the Mediterranean must adapt to evolving demand trends such as high demand from China and new consumer buying behaviors, the founder of the Mediterranean Hotels & Restaurants Association said.

Speaking at the 9th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders conference in Barcelona on Thursday, Ghassan Aidi, honorary chairman of International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA) said that despite the global economical and financial crisis, the hoteliers are learning to adapt.

“Years ago our grandfathers built and opened hotels to offer people the courtesy of lodging. Hospitality was the key at that time, it is not today," he said. "Remember that people always need to travel, people will continue to travel, business travelers will not stop pouring into our hotels. The only difference is that travellers today make different choices. Instead of staying in a five-star hotel, they will go to four-star hotels; instead of staying 2 weeks, they will stay 10 days."

Aidi warned that independent hotels will need to deal with competition from international hotels chains.

“In our sector, unfortunately, the independent hoteliers are challenged by the mega chains. Last week Marriott merged with Starwood to create the world largest hotels company with 5,500 hotels and more than one million rooms. They will create a major force for expansion.”

Aidi said that increasing numbers of Chinese tourists offer opportunities.

"50 million Chinese will have passports and will travel in 2015-2016. The Chinese government is looking actively at new destinations and our region, the Mediterranean, is very rich with various cultures and hundreds of exciting destinations from Turkey to Morroco." 

The Mediterranean region is today a major world tourist destination, with approximately 50 percent of total world arrivals, one-third of tourist income, and 20 percent of the accommodation capacity worldwide.

100,000 Mediterranean hotels are located around one sea and in 24 countries.  By 2020, it is expected that 420 million non-resident tourists will visit the Mediterranean region. 

" We are the leaders in helping our communities from the North and South Mediterranean to overcome economic difficulties by attracting capital investments and spending from other parts of the world,"  Aidi added. 

Aidi also noted the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of Republic of Turkey, regarding peace in the region: "When there is a peace in the Mediterranean, there will be peace in the world."

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