European hotel group Accor is planning to hire 4,000 people in the next three to four years in the Middle East as it opens more hotels in the region.
The group, which currently operates 56 hotels in the region, employs around 8,000 staff here, according to Christophe Landais, managing director Accor Middle East.
“We will open 10 hotels in 2012, and that will require about 1800 staff,” he said. But most of the recruits will be hired from within the company, he added.
Accor has 23 hotels are under construction in the Middle East, which are scheduled to open within the next three years. “However, our target is 100 hotels either operating or under construction by 2015,” said Landais.
According to him, two of the main constraints with such massive expansion is recruiting and retaining staff.
“Before the crisis in 2009, it was very difficult to find staff in Dubai and the UAE. We had to go to Nepal and China to find people. But the crisis came along and then it became easier to recruit staff,” said Landais.
In order to retain its employees, Accor has opened an academy in the UAE to train regional staff and help in their career development.
In terms of demographics of its employees, Landais said that it’s diversified across the region. While 100 per cent of the hotel’s staff in Egypt are local, 90-95 per cent of Accor’s staff in Jordan are nationals. In the Gulf countries, about one third are from Arab countries and the rest are mostly from Asia, said Landais.
Tourism outlook in each of the regional economies is also quite varied, he said. “If you look at Bahrain, we don’t know when there will be a solution to the unrest there. Syria is also facing difficulties and Egypt, since its more linked to the inland leisure market, is also having problems,” said Landais.
However, Saudi Arabia is very stable and the tourism market there is growing rapidly since there has been a push to develop the domestic leisure market. In the UAE as well, especially in Dubai, prospects are good, he said.
“Dubai is in fact exceptional in regard to the demand for hotels because over the last two and a half years, 18,000 rooms have opened in the city, but hotels are still running at 80 per cent occupancy,” said Landais. “Demand is even exceeding supply.”
There is also particular demand for economy and midscale hotels, which cater mainly to domestic and intraregional travelers. Around 70 per cent of Accor’s hotels in the region, which includes brands like Ibis and Novotel, fit in this spectrum, said Landais.