Turkey and Central Asia’s hospitality sector is experiencing buoyant growth, showing little sign of any negative fall out from the global economic slowdown, according to Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events and co-organiser of the Central Asia & Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) in Istanbul next month (February 6-8 2012). “The multi-faceted CATHIC region is showing up as one of the world’s fastest growing travel and tourism hotspots, with the sector driving the growth of many economies, including Turkey,” he said. Indicators show that demand has driven investors to pump up Turkey’s room stock pipeline by 120,000 rooms across 1,000 new properties up to 2015. Flags include those of Marriott, Wyndham, Radisson, and UAE’s Jumeirah. This builds upon 250,000 room keys added during the past decade. Worsley noted that the increase in inventory has been able to sustain a strong occupancy and average room rate. In support of Worsley’s observations, Michael O’Hare, Managing Director of Horwath HTL Russia confirmed that Turkey is emerging as a favourite market for hotel investment. He said that Turkey provides ideal criteria for potential investors looking for new markets and opportunities for development.2] However, Worsley was quick to observe that while development has a direct positive impact on tourism and business growth, there is a need for the market to embrace global industry guidelines and standards if Turkey’s burgeoning sector is to remain competitive alongside the lodging portfolios of other international destinations. He said that investors need to work closely with the international brands to help ensure that global benchmarks across product and service are injected and respected in Turkey, and the wider region. Wyndham Hotel Group is among the growing number of international players moving in on Turkey’s potential. The Wyndham Istanbul Kalamis Marina and the 306-room Wyndham Petek Istanbul are both set to open this year. “Turkey plays an important role in our plans to expand Wyndham Hotel Group’s portfolio in Europe and the Middle East providing travellers with first-rate accommodation around the world,” said Eric Danziger, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Hotel Group. Meanwhile, Marriott International recently marked the entry of its JW Marriot brand into the Turkish market with the opening of the Ankara property last year. A new Renaissance Hotel also is set to open in Istanbul later this year. Other flags that are set to fly across Turkey’s skyline include Hilton’s Doubletree brand, which has signed 11 properties last year, with a development pipeline of more than 14 hotels due to open by 2014. In addition, Holiday Inn Express, and Shangri-La are also expected to announce properties later this year. Worsley said that the upcoming CATHIC 2012 provides a timely platform to discuss the future of tourism in the region, and further encourage inward investment. Key speakers at CATHIC 2012 include: Hamdi Akin, Chairman of Akfen Holding Company; Cevdet Akcay, Chief Economist, Yapi Kredi Bank; Denis Hennequin, President & CEO, Accor SA; Eric Danziger, President & Chief Executive Officer, Wyndham Hotel Group; Angela Brav, Chief Executive Officer – Europe, IHG; Kurt Ritter, President & CEO, The Rezidor Hotel Group; Serdar Bilgili, Chairman, Bilgili Holding; Simon Vincent, President - Europe, Hilton Worldwide; Roeland Vos, President EAME, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide; and Lado Sakvarelidze, Chief Financial Officer, Redix. The Central Asia & Turkey Hotel Investment Conference will run from February 6 -8, 2012 at Ceylan Intercontinental, Istanbul and is organised by Bench Events and Questex Media.