The President and CEO of the Jumeirah Group from Dubai, tells us about their investments in Turkey.

First of all, can you please introduce yourself?
I am the President and the Group CEO of the Jumeirah Group, which has been founded in Dubai, and Dubai is our home base. We operate hotels on management agreements outside of Dubai in various parts of the world, particularly in China, where we have eight hotels under development. We are very pleased to say that we now have 2 hotels in Turkey, the beautiful Pera Palace, the historic building here in Istanbul, and very recently we took over what was known as The Golden Savoy, and is now known as The Jumeirah Bodrum Palace in Bodrum. I also am the Vice Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, so the cause of tourism and travel is obviously something very close to my heart.

How did you decide to make collaborations in Turkey? What does the Turkish market offer you?

Well, we are very pleased that the Jumeirah brand is a Middle Eastern brand, a brand from the region, and it is one that has become known around the world at the very top of the luxury hospitality business. So it was very natural for us to come to one of the major cities of the Middle East, Istanbul. And of course to have the opportunity to start with The Pera Palace by Jumeirah was something we were very very pleased about.

What is the importance of The Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah for you?
I love history, and I think that to see a hotel that has been so well preserved, so well developed by the Demsa group into what it is today, restored totally to its former glory but in such a sympathe- tic way, in a way that looks really like it is supposed to look was wonderful. This hotel has such a great history, from the point of view of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk having stayed here. His suite is now a museum to his me- mory and our guests love to see this. We also have the British aut- hor Agatha Christie, who wrote her famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express” here, Ernest Hemingway stayed here, so we’ve had so many famous people that stayed here since it opened in 1892. So it was a real privilige for Jumeirah to be offered the management of this wonderful property.

Are your collaborations going to continue in Turkey?
Yes, you must see the Jumeirah Bodrum Palace, which truly is a unique hotel as well. We have about 50 swimming pools for the 135 rooms, a beautiful beachfront area, fantastic cabanas, and it truly is a pala- ce in the real sense. I think our guests are really going to love it, because they will always get the very special Jumeirah welcome and the very special Jumeirah service. We hope these two great properties will be the start of many more ventures for Jumeirah. And indeed we have a second brand, a contemporary lifestyle brand called Venue, which we are also developing around the world and we see huge opportunities in Turkey. Particularly as Tourism is such an important industry for Turkey, with the “open skies” policy of Turkey, with Turkish Airlines continuing to develop, with the products that you have here, and the fantastic weather, lovely people I’m sure the tourism of this country will continue to grow, and we hope to be part of the success story of Turkish tourism.

What do you think are the tourists expectations of Turkey?
So many people come to Turkey for different reasons. People come for leisure, people come for historical reasons, for cultural reasons but people really come to enjoy what the country has to offer, and the country has such a huge diversity of tourism offe- rings for all nationalities from all over the world, historical sites, lovely beaches, beautiful islands. I can’t think of a better place in the world, from the tourism perspective, than Turkey.

In general, what can you say about the tourism tendencies in the world? Are there any changes?
I am very pleased that we are totally involved in the tourism industry at this point in our lives, because we can see some incredible developments within tourism. Tourism is growing at the rate of 5% per annum, which is about the double of the global growth rate. We now have about 1.2 billion international travelers per year and this is going to continue growing at least by 10 percent per annum. So I think we have a great future to look forward to within the tourism, travel and hospitality industry which will create so many jobs. Already tourism, travel and hos- pitality industries account for 277 million jobs worldwide which is almost 10 percent of the global labor force. And if you think of how many of those jobs are for young people, which is one of the biggest problems in places like Southern europe, like Spain at the moment where up to 50 percent of people under 25 are unemp- loyed. Our industry, especially the hotel industry offers wonderful opportunities for young people to come and start a wonderful career.

Are there any other countries in which you would like to start collaborations?
Yes, as they say, the world is our oyster. We only have 23 hotels, we have about 25 under development as we speak in different locations around the world. So yes, I would say there are many different areas where we have great opportunities. We certainly see Eastern Europe, the Adriatic coast as an opportunity for us. And indeed Asia, Africa… I guess we will have to go to my country island (Ireland) at some stage. Plus of course the Americas. It has all yet to happen for Jumeirah and for Venue, but we are confident that we have a great future to look forward to.

You travel a lot due to your profession. What do you think abo- ut Turkey as a destination personally, for your own vacations?
Well I don’t want to go home tonight, I want to stay here and read more about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, because I was looking at the museum today, and I took a book to read, I will put it back again before I go. It is so interesting, I think İstanbul is an incredible city, it is one of the great great cities of the world. Just being here for a couple of days on business made me say I want to come back soon with my family.