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Lebanon reopens for tourists and other international news

20 November 2006

Lebanon reopens for tourists
Lebanon has reopened for tourist business three months after the recent conflict with Israel. The country hopes to attract close to a million foreign visitors this year and said its tourism infrastructure emerged largely unscathed from the battle, which caused around £8b of destruction.

Middle East industry is booming despite recent conflict Separately, InterContinental Hotels (ICH) reported that despite Lebanon's crisis, the Middle East's hotel industry is booming. The company said operating profits at its hotels in the region climbed 13% to £53m in the third quarter with revenue per available room (revpar) increasing 30%. ICH, which owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn chains said its outlook "remains positive".

Golden Tulip set to open first Bulgarian property
Dutch hotel group Golden Tulip Hospitality is launching its first property in Bulgaria with the opening of the Golden Tulip hotel in Varna. The 90-room hotel includes a restaurant and lobby bar as well as a fitness centre with gym, sauna, massage room and jaccuzi. Conference facilities include three meeting rooms catering for up to 210 delegates.

Property developer to build underwater hotel in China
Chinese property developer Shimao Group is to build the first five-star underwater hotel in China. Due to open in 2009, the Shanghai Shimao Wonderland will feature 300 rooms above water and a number of rooms as well as a restaurant below. It will also include a shopping complex, additional restaurants and entertainment and sport facilities. Shimao Group said it plans to open ten more five-star properties in China over the next five years.

Thailand to get first Sofitel hotel
Accor is launching its first Sofitel hotel in Thailand with the opening of the Sofitel Riverside in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The 74-room hotel, which is set to open in the next few weeks, located on the bank of Chiang Mai's Ping River and currently operates as the Rati Lanna. It will be renamed as the Sofitel Riverside under a 10-year management contract. Accor is also taking over management of a hotel in Krabi, the Sofitel Phokeethra Krabi Resort & Spa. The 276-room resort features colonial architecture and is fronted by a white sand beach and surrounded by tropical rainforest. The Sofitel Krabi will be the company's first hotel in Thailand to feature its Le Spa health and wellness service.

InterConti appoints new VP of sales Europe
InterContinental Hotels Group has appointed Nick Grandvoinet to the newly created role of vice-president sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Grandvoinet, who will be based at the company's global head quarters in Windsor, will overlook the group's sales team and its targets of adding 50,000 to 60,000 new rooms to its estate in the next three years.

By Kerstin Kühn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn](mailto:kerstin.kuhn@rbi.co.uk?subject=Worldwide briefing) here.

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