The Ajman-based R Hotels plans to invest Dh150 million on a four-star hotel as the emirate seeks to draw 5 million tourists a year by 2021.
Construction on the 182-room property, located alongside Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman, is expected to start this quarter. It is set to open in the first quarter of 2017.
“The real estate sector is getting busy with the Ajman City Centre mall expanding and areas near Hamriya Free Zone getting developed,” said Iftikhar Hamdani, the vice president for acquisition and development at R Hotels and general manager of Ramada Ajman hotels. “The corniche projects are coming along fast and there is confidence in the market.”
In May, Majid Al Futtaim Investments said it would invest Dh500m to expand Ajman City Centre by 51,000 square metres. Construction work is expected to start towards the end of next year and end in 2017.
“We kept around 80 per cent occupancy rate during Ramadan and we run out of rooms during the October to May period,” said Mr Hamdani. “There is a constant demand from the tour operators and it was clear we needed another property in Ajman.”
Work on several property projects in Ajman slowed during the global financial crisis but has recently picked up pace. That includes the Ajman Marina project that was announced in 2007. The Dh100m project was completed last year, according to the Department of Municipality and Planning.
In May, Ajman’s tourism department said it was aiming to attract 5 million tourists a year by 2021. The total number of guests who checked into the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments last year was 850,000.
The new R Hotels property would join Ajman’s two mid-market properties, both by R Hotels, and four luxury properties. There are nine one and two-star hotels in the emirate.
Oberoi, an Indian hotel operator, and the Mauritius-based Lux Resorts & Hotels group are expected to open hotels in Al Zorah in the next two years. The area is run by the master developer Solidere International.
“[Ajman Tourism Development Department] has been actively tapping different markets like China, and our hotels are also beefing up our nationality mix with arrivals from Turkey, Germany, Oman and Eastern Europe,” said Sumair Tariq, the managing director of R Hotels. “We are expecting higher room demands in the next couple of years, as confirmed by the opening and announcements of new hotels in Ajman.”
Tourists from the Middle East, excluding those from the UAE and the Arabian Gulf, form Ajman’s largest source market, followed by Russia and the CIS states last year, according to the department.
Although traffic congestion is among the top challenges for Ajman’s tourism sector, the emirate has signed a deal with Whitelake Consortium to develop an airport in its Al Manama enclave, 52 kilometres east of Ajman city.
The Dh2.1 billion Ajman International Airport is expected to be completed in 2018, and it will be capable of handling more than 2 million passengers a year.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter