IHG signs agreement to develop its first property in Syria

May 12, 2008 // Franchising.com // InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed an exclusive agreement with MAK Hotel Holdings, a member of the M.A. Kharafi Group of Kuwait, to develop an InterContinental Hotel in the Syrian capital.

Located in the city centre, the 370-room InterContinental Damascus, due for completion in 2010, will form part of the capital's only integrated development which will include a shopping mall, cinema complex and office space.

Targeted at the luxury leisure traveller, InterContinental Damascus will be the perfect starting point for those keen to explore the areas historic sites, known to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

John Bamsey, Chief Operating Officer, IHG, Middle East & Africa, commented: "The M.A. Kharafi Group is one of the largest Groups in the Middle East and we are delighted to be partnering with them on the InterContinental Damascus. Over the last few years we have witnessed a substantial increase in tourism levels to Syria; our aim is for IHG to be at the forefront of this demand for accommodation. When open, InterContinental Damascus will offer guests a luxurious and first-class place to stay while discovering this historically rich location; testament to InterContinental's commitment to provide authentic and enriching destination experiences for all guests."

Mohamed Fahmy, Managing Director of MAK Hotel Holdings, commented: "This is an exciting development for our group and we are thrilled to be working alongside IHG to deliver an exceptional InterContinental branded hotel in the heart of Damascus. There is great investment potential throughout Syria and we look forward to expanding our portfolio within the region."

Incorporated in the design of the InterContinental Damascus are a number of world-class meeting rooms, specialty shops, health club and spa. The property will also feature the largest grand ballroom in Damascus, with capacity for 2,500 people. With other highlights including an all-day dining restaurant, three speciality restaurants and bar, the hotel is set to become a key attraction for both local and international travellers.

With tourism to Syria increasing rapidly and the Ministry for Tourism visitor figures indicating a 23 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2008, the Syrian Government has significantly increased spending on tourism, recognising the pivotal role that it can play within the nation's economy. As part of this spending, the Government has implemented a substantial marketing campaign, coupled with planned infrastructure, to improve leisure facilities across the country.

Currently there are 36 InterContinental Hotels and 10,900 rooms across the Middle East and Africa, with a further 11 properties and 3,488 rooms in the development pipeline.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is one of the world's largest hotel groups by number of rooms. IHG owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, almost 4,000 hotels and more than 590,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world The Group owns a portfolio of well recognised and respected hotel brands including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites® and Hotel Indigo®, and also manages the world's largest hotel loyalty programme, Priority Club® Rewards with over 37 million members worldwide.

IHG pioneered the travel industry's first collaborative response to environmental issues as founder of the International Hotels and Environment Initiative (IHEI). The environment and local communities remain at the heart of IHG's global corporate responsibility focus. We're the first major hotel group to have measured our environmental and carbon footprints and we're in the process of setting reduction targets.

With more than 1,600 hotels in its development pipeline, IHG needs to find around 150,000 people over the next few years to meet its global expansion plans.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the group's holding company and is incorporated in Great Britain and registered in England and Wales.

IHG offers information and online reservations for all its hotel brands at www.ihg.com and information for the Priority Club Rewards programme at www.priorityclub.com.

For the latest news from IHG, visit our online Press Office at www.ihg.com/media

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