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Asian Hotels Begin to See Chinese Tourists Returning

Alan Woinski
January 19th, 2023 at 7:41 AM EST

Skift Take

  • UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023 suggests global international tourist arrivals could reach 80%-95% of pre-pandemic levels this year.
  • Cambodia is expecting to receive up to four million international tourists this year, accelerated by China announcing its reopening policy. 2022 brought some 2.28 million international tourists to Cambodia with China making up only 106,000 of them.
  • The Macau Hotel Association warned that local hotels may need to cap their maximum guest capacity at 70% to 89% during the Lunar New Year holiday period due to a shortage of staff in operations.

UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023 suggests global international tourist arrivals could reach 80%-95% of pre-pandemic levels this year, depending on the extent of the economic slowdown, the ongoing recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific and the evolution of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. UNWTO anticipates a strong year for the sector even in the face of diverse challenges including the economic situation and continued geopolitical uncertainty. 2022 had twice the number of international travelers than 2021, more than 900 million tourists. The Middle East enjoyed the strongest relative increase as arrivals climbed to 83% of pre-pandemic numbers. Europe reached nearly 80% as it welcomed 585 million arrivals in 2022. Africa and the Americas both recovered about 65% of their pre-pandemic visitors but Asia and the Pacific reached only 23%. The sector is facing up to economic, health and geopolitical challenges but that is all supposed to be offset by the lifting of Covid-19 related travel restrictions in China. This is likely to benefit Asian destinations the most. UNWTO believes it will be shaped by the availability and cost of air travel, visa regulations and Covid-19 related restrictions in the destinations. They believe strong demand from the US, backed by the strong US dollar, will continue to benefit destinations in the region and beyond. 

Cambodia is expecting to receive up to four million international tourists this year, accelerated by China announcing its reopening policy. 2022 brought some 2.28 million international tourists to Cambodia with China making up only 106,000 of them. Cambodian tourism officials are expecting at least one million Chinese tourists in 2023. The nation hopes to return to the tourism figures seen before the pandemic. In 2019 they had 6.6 million international tourists, generating $4.92 billion in revenue, making up 12% of the nation’s GDP.

The Macau Hotel Association warned that local hotels may need to cap their maximum guest capacity at 70% to 89% during the Lunar New Year holiday period due to a shortage of staff in operations. They cite the abrupt reopening of Macau’s borders on January 8, catching hoteliers off guard and not allowing them time to add staff in several areas of the hotel operations. The need for restricted capacity stems from a need to ensure the quality of service provided by hotel units, which must comply with the standards of their respective class. Some hotels have said they were able to rehire former staff members who were laid off or did not have their contracts renewed during the pandemic. Other hotels are looking to recruit local part time workers to fill positions that require less experience and are calling on current staff members to extend their working times and temporarily reduce their rest days.

Forbes published an article on Banyan Tree Holdings and how they are busy planning for 50 new hotels. Founder and chairman Ho Kwon Ping told the reporter that hotels across Asia will see the return of Chinese tourists beginning in the second quarter with a real surge expected during the Labor Day holiday in early May. While they are seeing a pick-up in Chinese arrivals, air fares are still very high and the availability of flights is still limited so he expects more of a pickup after Chinese New Year and probably in the second quarter onwards. Ho said his Banyan Tree is on track to grow its portfolio to 100 hotels and resorts by 2025, almost doubling what it owned and managed just a year ago. In 2022 the company added 8 hotels across China, Indonesia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, bringing its portfolio of properties to 65 across 17 countries. He believes his existing hotels in Asia are already performing close to pre-pandemic levels as of the end of 2022 as visitors from Russia, India and Arab countries filled the rooms. RevPAR at their properties in Thailand jumped 277% year over year in first quarter’s advance reservations with occupancy in forward bookings jumping 28%.

Parkroyal Langkawi Resort, a property under Pan Pacific Hotels Group, will be opening and welcoming guests on February 15, 2023. The seaside haven in Malaysia is a 301 room beachfront resort strategically located along the Pantai Tengah. The Parkroyal Langkawi will offer a collection of six types of rooms, eight types of suites and seven spacious and exclusive villas with unique facilities and amenities. Their all-day dining venue is called Cassia, while the modern restaurant and bar is Lancava. There also is the Ocean View Lounge for those who want a laid-back tropical atmosphere. Other amenities include the Suasana Spa as well as eight versatile venues set aside for MICE events and functions. 

Royal Orchid Hotels Limited announced a strategic expansion of its Regenta brand across India. They noted 26 new properties are slated to open in 2023 targeting leisure and business guests alike. The Regenta by Royal Orchid brand is described as standing for rejuvenation, relaxation and has a more youth-oriented approach to services. The six sub-segments of the brand include Regenta, Regenta Resort (five star), Regenta Central, Regenta Suites (four star), Regenta Place (three star) and Regenta Inn. Royal Orchid said they will add to its list of properties across India with new openings in Tier 2 and 3 cities such as Coorg, Gulbarga, Gangtok, Digha (West Bengal), Nellore, Jhansi, Raipur, Pune among others. The openings include three Regenta Resorts, nine Regenta Central properties, seven Regenta Inn properties and seven Regenta Place properties.

Resort and hotel management company Club Resorto Hospitality Ltd. is set to expand its horizons to newer destinations by introducing seven new properties in Manali, Jaipur, Goa, Yelagiri, Pondicherry, Rameshwaram and Thekkady. Club Resorto plans to upscale its operations further by adding 45 new resorts by 2025. In addition to expanding its footprint across India, Club Resorto will be inaugurating properties in Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok as well.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts said they expanded their presence in the Philippines with the launch of SureStay Studio by Best Western Clarkview, the first SureStay Studio property in the country. The modern midscale hotel offers a choice of 74 contemporary studio-style rooms and suites, all equipped with a twin or double beds. They offer a restaurant, a well-equipped fitness center, indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi and a business center with workstations and a meeting room for corporate travelers. The hotel is centrally located in the heart of Angeles City, just 6 kilometers from Clark International Airport. The new opening marks the debut of SureStay Studio by Best Western in the Philippines.

In 2022, Radisson Hotel Group continued its drive forward its ambitious expansion plan to be one of the top three hotel groups in the world with its portfolio of nine distinct brands and its growing resorts portfolio. The luxury lifestyle Radisson Collection brand had an exception year of openings in 2022 with the introduction of six new hotels. In 2023, the Group is looking forward to new additions including Radisson Collection, Santa Sofia Milan, Radisson Collection Royal Astorija Hotel, Vilnius, Radisson Collection Resort, Galle in Sri Lanka, and Cour des Loges Lyon, A Radisson Collection Hotel. Radisson RED celebrated several milestone openings in 2022. Radisson said they continue to be the fastest growing upscale brand in EMEA in the industry. Radisson Blu continues to be the largest upper upscale band in Europe. Radisson Individuals expanded with over 20 properties. In India, Radisson Hotel Group launched its first Radisson Individuals Retreats with the opening of Rakkh Resort, a member of Radisson Individuals Retreats. Following the opening of three new prizeotel properties in 2022, the Group will focus on expanding its signature midscale lifestyle brand further in 2023. Resorts have become increasingly relevant to the business, owners, and guests. The Group welcomed additions to its 130 strong Resorts portfolio. 2022 has been a strong year for Radisson Hotel Group in Asia Pacific with 40% more signings in the region compared to 2021. In China, Radisson Hotel Group signed and opened 80 hotels and anticipates further strong growth with the reopening of the market, as it aims to double its Chinese portfolio over the next five years. Radisson Hotel Group entered a strategic alliance in India with Ruptub Solutions Private Limited to add 150 hotels to its portfolio under the midscale brand, Park Inn & Suites by Radisson and signed its first property in Q4.

Alan Woinski
January 19th, 2023 at 7:41 AM EST

Companies: Banyan Tree, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Pan Pacific Hotels Group, Park Inn by Radisson, Radisson Blu, Radisson Collection, Radisson Hotel Group, Radisson Individuals, Radisson Red, Regenta, Royal Orchid Hotels Limited, SureStay Studio

Locations: Cambodia, China, Goa, India, Indonesia, Jaipur, Japan, Macau, Philippines, Pondicherry, Rameshwaram, Thailand

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