January 2019

James Hogan today addressed delegates at the Saudi Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (SHIC) taking place in Riyadh this week.

He joined a line-up of Saudi government leaders and pre-eminent global hospitality executives, present at the event to share their expertise and experience in shaping the emerging Saudi hospitality industry.

Speaking to MEED Editorial Director, Richard Thompson, Mr Hogan shared his insights and learnings gained during four decades in the aviation, travel and tourism industries during a session entitled ‘Building a World Class Brand, World Class Offering and Making it relevant’.

He said: “If you look at the destination branding success stories around the world, you see, in addition to the obvious investment in hard assets and infrastructure, three common elements: a strong, clearly communicated vision, an integrated, holistic approach and disciplined strategy; and finally, private public collaboration and partnership to execute this plan across all sectors and stakeholders.

“But more importantly, both government and private sector businesses need to invest in education and skills training for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. You need to create a local homegrown workforce of well trained and empowered people who can deliver an authentic experience. Because it will be this experience which ultimately defines the brand. “This will be good for the business and good for the local economy. “Saudi Arabia has enormous potential as a largely untapped tourism destination. It has great and unique cultural, historic and natural assets which offer development opportunities for businesses, and fresh experiences for new generations of global travellers. As the aviation, travel and tourism sectors in the kingdom open up to foreign investment and expertise, we look forward to sharing our experience and expertise in these areas,” he said in conclusion.

Between 2006 and 2017, he served as President and Chief Executive of Etihad Aviation Group, which he built into a US$20 billion enterprise, achieving the mandate from his shareholders to build an award-winning global airline and a diversified aviation and travel group. Under his leadership, Etihad Airways was named Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in 2016, the industry’s most prestigious independent accolade.

Prior to this, he was President and CEO of Gulf Air, and held senior executive positions at BMI, Forte Hotels, and Hertz.

He was recognized among the Top 25 Most Influential Executives in the business travel industry by Business Travel News British Travel and inducted into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2017, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘distinguished services to the aviation transport industry, to the development of tourism and trade linkages between Australia and the Gulf states, and to international airline associations’.

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