Hospitality and tourism on the boom in Erbil
Dedeman Erbil GM sees Kurdistan a future tourist destination
As part of the business boom in Kurdistan Region, and its capital city Erbil in particular, more foreign business people, diplomats and tourists are visiting the region and the city. This has led to a fast growth of hospitality and tourism sector.
A number of international chain hotels are already open in Erbil and Suleimaniya, another city in Kurdistan Region. Dozen others are under construction and expected to offer their internationally renowned hospitality to this new hospitality front of the world.
Rotana, Divan, Dedeman, Copthorn and Ramada are already open and Marriott, Hilton,DoubleTree by Hilton, Kempinski, Sheraton, Best Western, and many other names are on the way and will opne in the coming years.
Ahmet Doĝangün, General Manager of Dedeman Erbil, member of the Turkish Dedeman Chain Hotels opened around four months ago, says in couple years as the new hotels open, the competition will grow and” the one who provide most personalized service to their customers will win.
”In the future who follows the new trends and takes actions immediately wıll win.
“At Dedeman we don’t use the word customers, we believe they are “our guests, and we treat them like this,” Doĝangun said in an exclusive interview with the Kurdish Globe, while his staff was offering highest quality of Turkish delight next to a hot cup of perfect Turkish coffee. All of these came with a hot smile from the waiter. “We want our guests to feel at home. We have decorated our hotel and our rooms with that in mind. They have a home-like atmosphere. Our mission to show authentic Turkish hospitality to Erbil.”
Talking about competition, Dedeman GM said their competition is themselves. “You either deliver high quality service and win the competition or the other way around.”
Although the number of hotels are increasing very fast in Kurdistan, however, many, among them Doĝangun, believe that there are still a lot of things to be done before this region become a tourist area.
“It is right that we have a lot of hotels and others are coming to the market, but this does not by itself attract tourists, especially Western tourists,” Doĝangun argues. “Kurdistan needs to create more tourist attractions, like health tourism, historical tourism, shopping, etc. Currently there are not much activities for tourists to do here. Just a nice hotel is not enough.”
Doĝangun was talking about the history of tour- ism in his country, Turkey. It took a long time to reach today, when it brings billions of dollars to this country every year.
“Twenty years ago, Turkey only had sea, sand and sun, now it has virtually anything tourists think of,” stated Doĝangun. “I know you don’t have sea, but you have a lot of other things, you have a wealth of history and archeology. You can work on these and develop your tourism sector.”
Among the other challenges in tourism sector in Kurdistan, Doĝangun, believes that starting a hotel is a challenge and construction companies, suppliers, workforce, community and infrastructure are among the factors.
However, he claims they have almost overcome all the challenges and their business is very good compared to the short period they have been open.
“Two and a half years ago this area was empty. Even 4 months ago, when I came here, a lot of work was still to be done. But now it is a proper hotel, and even though we are during the soft opening period.”
He also added that it was not easy to create the team, especially the local team members, since one cannot easily find the skills and qualifications locally.
“But now, I have an amazing team, 20% of whom are local, 20% from Syria and the rest international. We have 14 different nationalities working in this hotel, all in a perfect harmony.”
talked about his hotel’s relationship with the environment, the authorities and the neighborhood. He said he has tried to make everyone around a friend and has also taught his team to be the same.
“We have to have a very good relationship with our neighbors, and I visit them and listen to their complaints in case there have been any concerns about our hotel. We have good communication with the authorities and we are following and respect all the laws and regulations and try to be as friendly business as possible.” Dedeman management has been doing some social activities such as offering free Iftar for people during Ramadan, helping out refugees, and trying to keep environment clean by planting trees inside and around the area in the future and keeping the surrounding cleaned all the time.
“Although these have been on a very low scale, we are planning to have a dedicated Social Responsibility Policy and contribute more to the society we are living in and doing business in.”
“Dedeman owners and management have taught us to be like this and we want to spread this culture among our team. We want to stand out in the market by what we offer to our customers and third parties as well. I think this is the key to success.”
Dedeman Erbil's GM Ahmet Dogangun takes pride of being part of the opening team of the "successful project" of his hotel in the Kurdish capital city of Erbil. Sunday, September 29, 2013.