By Tim Cordon
Area Senior Vice President Middle East & Africa, Radisson Hotel Group
While the year is coming to an end, global communities continue to work tirelessly to combat the spread of Covid-19. It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has been placed in an incredibly vulnerable position, but within that sobering reality, it’s important to be resilient but also flexible, nimble and open-minded.
With no doubt there will be several long-term changes to how the travel and hospitality industries will function and interact moving forward. Another key aspect to consider is how travelers and guests themselves will ultimately evolve with regards to their behaviors, expectations and preferences.
But, the hospitality industry has survived countless challenges and periods of economic downturn, and COVID-19 will be no exception. As we all know, this has been a year of absolute firsts for so many, and there’s been an enormous amount of learning and stretching in between. In times like these, we need to plan for the future, inspire our teams and remind them that there will be an end to this crisis, and that the hospitality industry will come back stronger than ever.
As we all look ahead to 2021, Radisson Hotel Group remains prudently optimistic and determinated to continue implementing the five-year development and growth plan in the coming three years. We are confident that travel will continue to rebound, and more capital will be invested in the industry from both the private and public sectors.
The region remains one of the key focus markets for Radisson Hotel Group’s global development strategy and we aim to continue expanding our brand architecture and strengthening our presence. Throughout the past 12 months, our teams have been working tirelessly to keep these hotel signings and openings on track, and I am very proud of what we have achieved this year.
Looking towards the future, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will continue to play a key role within our expansion. The Middle East portfolio currently has 73 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in operation and 38 hotels in development. Looking at the current pipeline, we aim to open six hotels across the kingdom and three hotels within the United Arab Emirates, in 2021.
One of my core believes is that regardless of the negative effects that came into being, there are always new opportunities that arise as a result. Those who understand the new definition of ‘normal’, adapt and respond, will be able to benefit from these new opportunities.
With that in mind, we’re busy preparing ourselves for an exciting year to come. From our second Radisson Collection in Saudi Arabia, the first Radisson Resort in Ras Al Khaimah to the group’s first hotel on Palm Jumeirah, 2021 has a lot in store for us.
While the recovery speed of the hospitality industry will be determined by the vaccine, and will be different based on the countries and areas around the world, many countries in Middle East have already started to see a recovery in the fourth quarter of 2020, be it from the domestic or international market.
Across the region, government’s stringent safety measures and innovative efforts have played a vital role in supporting businesses in their recovery while safeguarding the people. Once the vaccine becomes available, this will significantly improve our industry’s performance, and until then we need to remain optimistic and positive, listen to our team, be flexible, and make decisions quickly.