Emerging markets are key to travel industry

May 12: A few years ago, the UN World Tourism Organisation predicted that tourism growth in the emerging markets would be two to three times that of the developed world during the next 20 years. This conviction has been fundamental to the business strategy of Kingdom Hotel Investments, the hotel and real estate investment company owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire. It has provided the funding for 32 hotels in 20 countries across the EMEA region and as a result enjoys a market capitalisation of $1.4bn. Sarmad Zok, the company's chief executive, talks to Roger Bitz about the thinking behind the strategy and the challenges that working in the hospitality industry in the developing world presents.