‘İstanbul hotels can come through Olympics smoothly’

August 12, 2012, Sunday/ 14:24:00/ ERGİN HAVA

İstanbul hotels will have no problems hosting visitors for a possible Summer Olympics with a healthy cooperation between local and private authorities to boost bed capacity and the number of qualified personnel, says the general manager of one of the city's most-frequented hotels.

Jan Peter van der Ree, the general manager of the Grand Hyatt in İstanbul, has told Today's Zaman that he has faith the megacity will prove it has sufficient quality hotels to host such a giant international event as the Summer Olympics. He shared his comments as part of a meeting for the opening of the Grand Hyatt's new concept restaurant named “34” –- the license plate number for the city. The new restaurant will serve both hotel customers and diners from outside the hotel in an “open kitchen” concept. Hyatt already uses this model in its Asian markets, and van der Ree says they expected to offer Turkey the concept of a "five-star restaurant with affordable prices." “People should choose us not only for special occasions but also on normal days, for meeting with friends," he explains. He says offering this new concept reflects İstanbul's diversified hotel services sector.

İstanbul along with Madrid and Tokyo is bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics, with the decision to be made by the International Olympic Committee in September 2013. Bidding for the fifth time in the last six rounds to host the games, the city expects to be awarded the Games this time. Van der Ree says it will not be a surprise to see İstanbul receive the approval of the International Olympic Committee. “The real challenge will be on the infrastructure front, and the city needs increased bed capacity as well as some other investments including transportation, services … and there is no reason for this not to be accomplished,” he says.

Underlining that İstanbul has become an internationally recognized venue for conventions over the past decade, van der Ree says the increasing appeal of the city reflects its potential to hold global events. A survey released last year by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranked İstanbul the seventh most important destination for hosting international meetings. Its growing attraction has also helped the city boost its status as a global fair hub. “The city has made a splash as a global meetings and events destination over the past few years. Authorities and the private sector should work together to capitalize on this potential; we have seven more years to go,” he says, adding, “Providing enough numbers of qualified personnel remains a critical threshold here.”

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