The UK’s largest hotel operator confirms the Middle East as a key to its international growth…

Premier Inn, the UK’s largest hotel operator, on Tuesday confirmed the Middle East is key to its international growth with plans to almost double the number of rooms in the region in less than three years.

The company said it has its sights set on a portfolio of 2,687 rooms across a dozen properties, up from 1,356 operating rooms today.

Darroch Crawford, managing director for Premier Inn in the Middle East, said it will open an additional seven hotels comprising 1,331 mid-market rooms in four countries, spread over six cities – Doha (Qatar), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Jubail (Saudi Arabia), Muscat (Oman), alongside Sharjah and Dubai in the UAE.

He said that in the UAE, Dubai’s Premier Inn Ibn Battuta Mall will have the largest key count outside of the United Kingdom at 372 rooms.

The announcement comes just weeks after a senior executive at Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said that Dubai is set to add 20,000 to 35,000 mid-market keys by 2020.

Speaking at Hotel Show’s Vision Conference, Yusuf Lootah, executive director tourism development & investments said the push was part of Dubai’s drive towards catering to the different budgets.

“The Premier Inn Dubai Ibn Battuta Mall will open in the second half of 2016, just after the 150-room Premier Inn Muscat Al Quram and 320 rooms served by the two Saudi-based properties,” he said in a statement.

“This is just weeks after Qatar gets two Premier Inn hotels, the 102-room Doha International Airport and another 219 rooms in the capital’s Education City development,” he added.

The company also revealed plans for expansion in India as Goa and Chennai are readying for three new hotels, adding 303 rooms. Also in the pipeline is the second largest project currently on tap, the 350-room Premier Inn Mumbai Worli which is slated to open in the early part of 2018.

David Vely, Senior Vice President Development, Premier Inn Middle East, Africa and India said this is all part of a strategic master plan to see 5,663 hotel rooms in the burgeoning mid-market sector across the GCC, India and Southeast Asia by the end of 2016.

Premier Inn is also making aggressive in-roads into the Southeast Asian market with 10 hotels totalling just under 1,452 rooms throughout Indonesia, including Bali, plus one each in Bangkok and Singapore.

“Presently, we have 23 properties currently in various stages of build set to join Premier Inn’s growing portfolio worldwide. Indeed, we have plans for 50 hotels in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia by 2018,” Vely said.

The expansion plan will see the group with around 10,000 new rooms in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Middle East across key cities including Bali, Bogor, Jakarta, Makassar, Surabaya and Yogjakarta (Indonesia), Bangkok (Thailand), Chennai, Goa and Mumbai (India), Dubai and Sharjah (UAE), Muscat (Oman), Doha (Qatar) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

Premier Inn currently operates over 670 hotels globally, including five hotels in the Middle East and three in India. Source: Arabian Business