The founder of Oyo Rooms, the world’s fastest-growing hotel chain, has said that Saudi Arabia is crucial to his $10 billion company’s global growth strategy.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, Ritesh Agarwal, the firm’s 25-year-old CEO, told Arab News that the Kingdom offered “very exciting, magical opportunities.”
Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent market for the company, but will become increasingly important, he said.
“We came to the Kingdom only about 10 months ago, but it is a very special market for us. At the moment, we have 9,000 rooms in 14 cities. We have gone to 600,000 customers in the first 10 months, and are aiming to get to 2 million next year,” he said.
Agarwal believes Saudi Arabia is on the cusp of a hotel boom as domestic tourism surges following Vision 2030 reforms.
The planned increase in religious tourism — at least 30 million pilgrims are forecast to travel to Makkah and Madinah by 2030 — is another growth factor, and Oyo has plans to expand into the two holy cities.
Describing the new online visitor visa as a game-changer, Agarwal said the third growth area will be a rise in international tourism to attractions such as the Red Sea development, NEOM and Al-Qiddiya.
Agarwal’s story is one to inspire any youthful would-be entrepreneur. The boy who began selling SIM cards on the streets of Titlagarh in India now heads a hotel chain that manages more than 1 million rooms in 80 countries.