As it continues to focus on increasing its international presence, Turkey remains a key growth market for one of the world’s most prominent hotel giants, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) chairperson said.
“After introducing our La Quinta brand in Turkey at the end of 2019 – the first outside of the Americas – we opened two new La Quinta properties in Bodrum and Giresun during the summer,” Dimitris Manikis told Turkish Sabah daily in an interview.
Manikis said they expect to open 12 additional hotels within the next three years.
“We remain committed to adding new properties to our current portfolio of over 80 hotels in Turkey. We are continuously working with new and existing partners to further expand our presence across the regions of the country,” he noted.
The tourism industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries by the coronavirus pandemic as it halted travel worldwide. Turkey, which heavily relies on tourism mobility, was also severely affected by the outbreak. Mobility, however, has gained pace over recent months after the country lifted lockdown measures and restarted flights.
The government also unveiled various measures and support for the industry since March.
Elaborating on the measures, Manikis stressed they welcome any step aimed at supporting the industry, especially with the unimaginable challenges that COVID-19 has brought.
“The recovery is going to be a journey, a real marathon. For some, it will be quicker, for others will take longer. As we build our way back our focus is on the safety and our important relationships with our guests, our team members and our hotel owners. It is about rebuilding confidence in travel and letting guests know that we will be here to welcome them when they are ready to travel again,” he noted.
Regarding occupancy rates – after tourists from several markets, including Ukraine, Russia and some European countries, started arriving in Turkey as of June – Manikis noted that according to STR data, hotel occupancy in Turkey ranged from between 21% and 42% from June 2020 to August 2020.
“Despite some hotel closures still in place during some of this period, on average our hotel occupancy slightly outperformed the trend,” he added.
Manikis also emphasized that on a broader level, Turkey started receiving inbound visitors after the reopening of borders over the summer, creating a greater potential to compensate.
“While this is a positive sign that people around the world continue to have an appetite to travel internationally whenever conditions allow, we may generally expect domestic travel to remain the priority among holidaymakers for a while to come,” he said.
He still said while there are reasons to be optimistic for the industry beyond 2020, there are also uncertainties in the precise timeline for when we may start to see significant changes in the current travel trends.
“Tourism is a highly interconnected industry with many factors and developments in some countries affecting other regions as well,” he noted. “The safety of guests and team members around the world remain our top priority and currently we are focusing on supporting our hotel partners in taking the steps needed to welcome back guests whenever people feel ready to travel again.”
The Wyndham aims to make travel possible for all, he noted, adding that they are continuously working on further steps to ensure the adoption of the best practices at their hotels, build confidence among guests and support their partners.
“We introduced our Count on Us initiative to EMEA earlier this year. This long-term and multi-faceted initiative includes the consistent use of top-of-the-range disinfectants at all hotels, the introduction of robust new training and guidelines, ongoing access to critical health essentials through trusted suppliers, as well as supporting our hotel partners to comply with national regulations around COVID-19, among others,” he explained.
The company has also taken a number of steps to provide flexibility for their guests and support their hotel partners in the wake of the outbreak. “In addition to providing substantial financial assistance to our thousands of hotel owners, we updated our policies to provide travelers and Wyndham Rewards members with increased travel flexibility as soon as pandemic conditions emerged.”
Manikis emphasized that they expect one of the longer-term effects of the pandemic to be on how people conduct business, so they are also taking some steps to support their partners in adapting to new trends in business travel.
“For instance, we have recently launched Wyndham Easy Book, a new initiative aimed at simplifying and promoting corporate bookings from small to mid-sized businesses located in EMEA, which are set to play an important role in the recovery of the sector in domestic demand,” he concluded.