Zinc InVision, a joint venture between Thailand’s InVision Hospitality and Singapore investment firm Cinnovation CG, will develop 28 hotels across the Middle East by 2020 as part of a $180m plan to take a slice of the Asian tourism market.
The Bangkok-based firm plans to initially launch four deluxe hotels, two five-star and two mid-tier properties in Dubai, said Jean Marc Lafosse, vice president of development.
Between $16m and $38m would be spent on each property, he told Arabian Business.
“We’re looking at phoenix-like growth over the next few years. Dubai’s five-star hotel market is slowly recovering and the revenues per available room is also increasing, allowing us a perfect time to come in and leverage our presence in the area,” he said.
Its flagship property Zinc Edge is slated to launch in Jebel Ali by the close of 2014, creating around 300 jobs.
Following Dubai, the company is plans to launch four hotels each in Egypt and Morocco, three in Saudi Arabia and a further two in Bahrain, Oman and Qatar respectively.
Lebanon is also another likely market for the hotel chain, which plans to fund its expansion by raising capital through Asia-based private funds.
“What’s happening now is that we’re contacting some private funds in Asia. You know that Asia has a lot of money, especially China, so many of them are trying to buy all over the world,” said Lafosse.
“They’ve come to Africa and they’re very interested in the Middle East.”
The hotel chain is also keen to expand through mergers, acquisitions and management deals, he said.
“With part acquisition, we can come as a 25 to 30 percent shareholder, or maybe a 50-50 shareholder. If the property is suitably located, and we see a very fast return on investment for our investor, maybe we can put in a 100 percent investment,” he said.
Dubai’s tourism industry was badly hit in the global downturn, with a number of hotel projects suspended as developers struggled to secure financing.
Gerald Lawless, the chairman of Dubai’s Jumeirah Group, last week said REVpar at the chain had tumbled 25 percent at the peak of the economic crisis.
Lafosse, however, said the Dubai market was able to accommodate new hotel supply.
“If you look at today’s market, it’s just at the limit of saturation. I think in two years time, the market will need to have some newcomers and new properties.
“Tourism is still a growing market here; everybody looks at Dubai as being the capital city of the Middle East,” he said, adding that he saw a number of investors from Russia and the Middle East who were interested in buying property in the region.
Zinc InVision saw an annual turnover of $15m last year, despite its main operations in Thailand being hit during the ‘Red Shirts’ protest from March to May.
The group also has properties under construction in Kathmandu, India, Dubai and in its home base of Thailand.