The Singapore government said indoor masks will no longer be mandatory from August 29 on and that masks will only be worn in medical facilities and on public transport. The bigger announcement is same-day visitors will no longer be required to be vaccinated when entering the country. Same-day visitors will just need to present a two day negative nucleic acid test with the 7 day home quarantine requirement now scrapped. Visitors who are unvaccinated will be required to take out travel insurance for Covid pneumonia. The Singapore health department reported 2,700 confirmed daily cases as of August 23, with the average number of confirmed cases in seven days dropping significantly.
Japan’s Prime Minister announced beginning September 7, the country will scrap its requirement of a negative Covid-19 test for arriving travelers who are vaccinated and boosted. Bloomberg said the pressure was on from the tourism industry and other businesses to ease most of the “stringent pandemic border restrictions.” This is a step in the right direction to open Japan’s tourism floodgates but the entry visa requirements are still very strict.
Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau announced over 70% of the budget for the government-funded hotel stay subsidy program for individual travelers has been used. The program started on July 15. The Bureau said September 8 will be the last day of the program. As of this past Tuesday, the program has subsidized over 1.2 million hotel rooms, with 9,800 accommodation facilities across the country participating in the program. The 70% discount on amusement park admission given to weekday visitors and the subsidy program for group tours are still continuing. The hotel stay subsidy program offers individual tourists NT$800 per room per night on weekdays and if they stay at hotels or B&Bs that meet stipulated standards, the subsidy would go up to NT$1,300 per night. The bureau has secured a NT$5.5 billion budget to give a boost to the country’s Covid-struck tourism industry, of which subsidies for individual tourists account for about NT$2 billion.
The Australian said investors are banking on a prolonged domestic tourism recovery as hotel traders and swooping in to buy local hotels. Room rates and occupancies are improving in most capitals despite some weakness in the Sydney CBD due to the absence of the Chinese inbound tourism market. The article said several major groups are circling the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast which is being offered by troubled Star Entertainment Group. Star teamed up with Far East Consortium and retain Chow Tai Fook to buy the hotel for $140 million in 2017 to complement their $3 billion Brisbane Queen’s Wharf joint venture. Right now Star is being raked over the coals by various Australian casino regulatory agencies. Vitale Property Group and Salter Brotherswere named in the article as having interest. Vitale is working with Accor and sbe on the nearby Mondrian Gold Coast Hotel and Private Residences. Salter joined with GIC and Partners Group to buy the Travelodge portfolio for $620 million. Other Gold Coast hotels of interest include Palazzo Versace being courted by Shakespeare Property Group, close to buying it for $114 million through JLL. In Sydney, the sale of Rydges Sydney Harbour hotel for about $100 million by Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud is getting closer.
In other news, JDH Capital, the investment firm redeveloping Sydney’s Sirius building, has struck a $210.5 million (Australian) deal to buy the Sir Stamford Circular Quay hotel on Macquarie Street. The acquisition would be via an exercisable option agreement with Singapore property tycoon CK Ow’s SGX-listed Stamford Land Corporation. JDH Capital would use this as a platform for a $380 million luxury apartment development of the site of the 10 story hotel, opposite the Royal Botanical Gardens, close to the Sydney Opera House. JDH is also transforming the former Vibe Hotel at Rushcutters Bay, which it bought for $120 million, into high-end apartments. Redevelopment of the Sir Stamford into apartments at a cost of $380 million was due to begin next year and take three years. The divestment by Stamford Land was brokered by JLL and would leave the company with ownership of five hotels in Australia and one in New Zealand, offering around 1,700 rooms.
Hyatt Hotels announced the opening of Grand Hyatt Gurgaon in Delhi NCR. The 442-room luxury hotel is the first Grand Hyatt property in Gurgaon, located in the commercial hub of the National Capital Region, part of a 29-acre complex. The 442 guest rooms include 45 suites and 55 serviced apartments, a variety of distinct dining venues, expansive event space and more.
The Holiday Inn Cebu City recently opened in the heart of Cebu Business Park, the first Holiday Inn property in Cebu. The new build hotel is a joint partnership between The Erawan Group Public Company Limited and IHG Hotels & Resorts, conveniently located in the center of Cebu’s premier business district, a 5-minute walk from the Ayala Center Cebu shopping mall. The hotel has 180 rooms and suites. The hotel’s seventh floor houses leisure, dining and events facilities for guests including an outdoor pool, 24 hour fitness center, and three function rooms.
Accor announced the opening of Grand Mercure Solo Baru. The 348 key hotel is the first Grand Mercure in Solo, Central Java in Indonesia, joining Accor’s network of four properties in Solo under the MGallery, Novotel and ibis Styles brands. Grand Mercure Solo Baru is located within walking distance to Park Mall, the largest shopping mall in Solo Baru. The hotel includes four dining outlets, infinity pool, fitness center and a spa as well as an 1,800 square meter Convention Hall.
The 49-room Else, housed in the former Lee Rubber Building in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will officially open on September 10. The hotel spans over 56,000 square feet and comprises four room categories, including Mantra (Standard), Urban Room (Deluxe with seating area), Sanctuary (upper floors with private balcony), and Sutera (suite with private living area). The Else Suite is the largest of all the rooms. Else includes two culinary concepts, a gym that includes two flotation pods, and a saltwater infinity pool.
CBRE Hotels has expanded its operation with the appointment of Ritika Diwan as a Director in its Sydney-based Capital Markets team. Diwan is considered an investment and management specialist and comes to Australia after 15 years in the hotels sector in India. The past nine years has been with SAMHI Hotels, with a focus on investment appraisal and valuation, acquisitions and divestments, investment manager and asset management across hotels and resorts.