(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Xury hotel giant bullish on continent?s prospects; expansions in the pipeline the ritz-carlton hotel company sees a bullish outlook for the hospitality industry in asia and the middle east and plans to expand its presence in the continent in next two years its senior official says.the luxury hotel brand which has 85 properties in 30 countries worldwide said the luxury hospitality market has traditionally done well in the middle east as travellers to and from the region are willing to make an investment in a unique guest experience at an exceptional property. it will launch 15 new hotels including five new properties in the middle east and africa growing its brand footprint to 100 hotels by 2016.“from a brand perspective we are seeing increasing interest in ritz-carlton and our products reflecting the upbeat sentiment in the market with regards to luxury hospitality. in countries like the uae host of expo 2020 and qatar host of the 2022 fifa world cup this is pronounced as these markets need to bolster their existing hospitality infrastructure with a diverse range of options to cater to the incoming demand” bob kharazmi global operations officer the ritz-carlton hotel company told khaleej times during an interview on the sidelines of the arabian travel market in dubai.over the next 30 months ritz-carlton has new properties scheduled to open in egypt tunisia morocco indonesia china and panama. underscoring the growth of asia as a tourism powerhouse ritz-carlton will add five new properties in the region with further development planned in malaysia and india.kharazmi said the ritz-carlton hotel brand has eight properties in the middle east and africa including three in the uae — the ritz-carlton dubai; the ritz-carlton difc and the ritz-carlton abu dhabi grand canal. adding to this portfolio the brand will also launch the nile ritz-carlton cairo; the ritz-carlton tunis; as well as the ritz-carlton marrakech; the ritz-carlton rabat and the tamuda bay reserve in morocco.“as a source market the middle east is very critical to us. travellers from this region have three aspects that are very attractive to hoteliers — travelling with family is very strong in this region; hotel stays by families and travellers from the middle east are longer than the average stay and finally the spending power of the middle east family is higher than the average global traveller” he said.kharazmi an industry veteran of 31 years said it is very difficult to pigeon-hole the middle east guest into the same category as the european asian or american guest. as a development market he said the middle east is one that “we are expanding our presence in. with the pace of infrastructural developments and economic growth in the middle east the tourism industry is flourishing. our eight properties in the region are performing very well and we are experiencing a high level of interest from owners as well as guests”.about the key growth markets for the ritz-carlton hotel brand he said asia australasia north africa and the middle east are “our key development markets reflecting the shift of economic activity from the west to the east”.“also with the new crop of global travellers who are willing to explore beyond their comfort zones we are seeing increasing interest in asia from the middle east and interest in the travel to the middle east and levant from travellers in europe” he added. “the us remains one of our main strongholds with several iconic properties based in the country. thanks to the increased air lift from the gcc by the big three airlines — emirates etihad airways and qatar airways — we are also getting the opportunity to showcase these landmark hotels and the distinct experiences to guests from the middle east.”about expansion plans he said the brand currently has 85 hotels worldwide in 30 countries including austria bahrain canada china germany india indonesia japan kazakhstan malaysia mexico oman qatar russia singapore saudi arabia spain thailand turkey the uae and the us among others. “we are very bullish about asia at the moment and have five properties set to open in the continent. we have back-to-back openings planned in bali for later this year — the ritz-carlton bali and mandapa a ritz-carlton reserve in ubud bali mark our return to the island.”“reflecting the robust growth in the chinese market we have three properties set to open there by 2015. we made our entry into the indian sub-continent with the ritz-carlton bangalore last year and are exploring opportunities to expand further” he said.