26/09/2017 05:37 AST

Swiss-Belhotel International (SBI) has announced its debut into the Holy City of Makkah with the signing of Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah in Saudi Arabia. Featuring 525 rooms, the upscale 4-star property is owned by Cardamom International Property Management LLC and is superbly located in the rapidly expanding hotel hub of Makkah only a few minutes? drive away from Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Al Aziziya. The hotel is expected to be ready for opening by the second quarter of 2018.

Making the announcement, Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International, said “Saudi Arabia is a key development market for us and we are proud to debut in the Holy City of Makkah with this outstanding project. We are truly grateful to Cardamom International Property Management for giving us this fabulous opportunity. With its prime location and excellent facilities, Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah will offer a distinctive hospitality experience to pilgrims when it opens its doors early next year.”

Nawaf bin Mansour bin Saleh Al Sharif, owner of Cardamom International Property Management, said “the steady growth of religious tourism in Makkah is fuelling demand for high-quality hotels in the city. Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah is a very significant project for us and we are pleased to partner with Swiss-Belhotel International that is a globally successful company and well equipped to meet the needs of the Saudi hotel sector in accordance with the best international standards.”

Included in the hotel’s 525 rooms are a good mix of rooms for groups and families tailored to meet the market needs. The hotel will also feature a restaurant, a lobby cafe and extensive banquet facilities.

Gavin M. Faull, Chairman and President of Swiss-Belhotel International, said “the hospitality industry in Makkah is witnessing remarkable growth at the moment and we are very excited to be part of it. Swiss-Belhotel International is well-positioned in the Middle East region and we are confident Swiss-Belhotel Al Aziziya Makkah will add tremendous value to our growing presence in the region and further strengthen our portfolio. We look forward to a fruitful relationship with Cardamom International Property Management.”

Saudi Arabia currently has the most hotel rooms under construction in the Middle East and North Africa, with 36,742 keys in 85 projects. Makkah is one of the biggest hotel markets in the Kingdom, with 27,000 rooms (compared to 11,000 in Riyadh and 9,400 in Jeddah.

Religious tourism has a key role play in diversifying the economy with religious pilgrims currently contributing 2-3% of Saudi GDP. There are plans to roughly double the capacity to accommodate both Umrah and Haj visitors to around 15 million and five million, respectively by 2020. In addition to massive development of hotels, the Saudi government is investing in major transport infrastructure to grow tourism such as the new Jeddah airport (open 2018) and the Haramain High Speed Rail line (2018) linking the holy cities of Madinah and Makkah via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah, and the new Jeddah airport.

Saudi Gazette

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