RIYADH: Thailand-based hospitality company Minor International (MINT) is in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia, according to the company’s founder and chairman.
“We’re very excited about what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, so we’re very hopeful that we’re going to be included in a couple of projects,” William Heinecke, MINT founder and chairman, said in response to a question from Arab News during the online Asian Business Leadership Forum (ABLF) last week. “We already have one or two projects on the boil, and we’re very, very excited to see them come to fruition.”
Saudi Arabia has the world’s biggest hotel pipeline, despite the negative economic impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector, according to an April report from industry research firm STR.
The study said the country’s expected 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years was the highest among the 50 most populated countries.
“Saudi Arabia’s growth aspirations, along with the strength of other Middle East hospitality markets such as Qatar and the UAE, is further validation that the region continues to emerge as a global tourist destination,” said Philip Wooller, STR’s regional director.
STR data showed there were 73,057 rooms in the Kingdom’s hotel pipeline. Of the total, 16,965 were scheduled to come online during 2021.
MINT’s three core businesses are hospitality, restaurants and lifestyle brands. It has a portfolio of 529 hotels in 56 countries which it owns, operates and invests in across a number of brands, including Anantara, Avani, Oaks, Tivoli, NH Collection, NH Hotels, nhow, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis and Radisson Blu.
While it currently does not have a property in Saudi Arabia, MINT’s portfolio has 22 hotels in operation or in development across the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
In August last year, Reuters reported that MINT had seen a 91 percent year-on-year drop in hotel revenue as average occupancy levels fell to nine percent.
Earlier this month, MINT announced it had a loss of THB5.2 billion ($165.4 million) during the first quarter of 2021.
“It is going to be an uneven ride out of the pandemic. 2021 is still going to be very challenging,” Heinecke said at the ABLF event.