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Asia-Pacific

Is Chinese New Year Travel Going Well or Not?

Alan Woinski
January 26th, 2023 at 7:37 AM EST

Skift Take

  • STR gave their 2022 summary, saying among the global regions, Asia was the only one to see a decline in revenue per available room when compared with 2019.
  • There seems to be a different in opinion about how Chinese New Year is going for the Asian region. Japan Today published an article saying Asia travel hotspots are quiet as Chinese tourists stay away, but the article seems to miss the true situation.
  • Dow Jones, on the other hand, published an article saying China’s tourism sector has recovered to pre-pandemic levels with travelers venturing out during the Chinese New Year holidays.

STR gave their 2022 summary, saying among the global regions, Asia was the only one to see a decline in revenue per available room when compared with 2019. While Australia & Oceania saw RevPAR rise 4.3% as a 20.8% rise in room rates offset a -13.6% decline in occupancy, versus 2019, Asia RevPAR was down -31.2%. Asia region hotel occupancy was down -23.7% to 52.3% while ADR was down -9.9% to US$84.38. In the Middle East, a -3.3% decline in occupancy was offset by a 22.2% rise in ADR to result in a rise in RevPAR of 18.2%.

There seems to be a difference in opinion about how Chinese New Year is going for the Asian region. Japan Today published an article saying Asia travel hotspots are quiet as Chinese tourists stay away. The article said beaches and temples of destinations like Bali and Chiang Mai are the busiest they have been since the pandemic struck three years ago but they are still relatively quiet. The article seems to miss the true situation. First China did not open up until January 8 plus the latest reports from China’s disease control center suggests 80% of the Chinese have quickly gotten Covid since they dropped the Zero-Covid policy. While that seems really weird, we ask you if everyone you know got Covid in a relatively short time span, would booking a trip to Bali be the first thing you want to do? The article said the resumption of group tours from China will likely bring in a bigger increase in visitors. For now only individual travelers who can afford to pay are spending on the expensive flights. Group tours are due to resume February 6.

Dow Jones, on the other hand, published an article saying China’s tourism sector has recovered to pre-pandemic levels with travelers venturing out during the Chinese New Year holidays. Once again, after being sick, shorter trips probably were more in demand than taking a trip to Bali or Thailand right now. Trip.com said reservations for B&B hotels have more than doubled from the same period a year ago. Bookings for hotels, B&B hotels and tourism tickets in the first four days of the Chinese Lunar New Year exceeded bookings for the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. Alibaba’s Fliggy said hotel reservations in China exceeded the numbers from the same period in 2019. Domestic long-distance travel orders increased by more than 500% year on year while the number of outbound travel product bookings to 33 countries and regions doubled during the first four days.

Hoteliers in Thailand were pleased to hear the Cabinet approved a revised subsidy scheme to stimulate domestic tourism, expecting 112,000 eligible people to exercise their rights and generate 12.5 billion baht worth of spending. The cabinet agreed to a fifth phase of the “We Travel Together” hotel subsidy campaign worth 3.95 billion baht to promote domestic tourism, as proposed by the ministry. 2.01 billion baht is allocated for the fifth phase of the campaign to promote domestic tourism for a total of 560,000 rooms. Another 1.93 billion baht goes to stimulate overseas and domestic tourism activities. Participants in the scheme pay 60% of the normal hotel room rate with the government responsible for the rest as well as an e-voucher worth 600 baht per room per day to be spent at shops such as food outlets and traditional Thai massage venues. The revised scheme caps spending at 3,000 baht per person while the number of room nights is reduced to five rooms per person per night from 10 in the fourth phase.

UAE-based LuLu Group is aligning its growth plans with the emergence of India as an economic superpower. They are investing in the pan-India region in the fields of retail, hospitality, food processing and logistics in different states. While most of the investment is in shopping malls, LuLu recently opened its latest five star hotel in Kerala Capital with an investment of Rs 600 crore. This follows the launch of its flagship five-star hotel Grand Hyatt Kochi and Hyatt Regency Thrissur. They also announced the upcoming project of Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kozhikode with an investment of Rs 500 crore.

Brij Hotels announced the opening of the Brij Gaj Kesri in Bikaner. This is their fourth hotel in Rajasthan and sixth across India. Brij Gaj Kesri is a modern-day manor house that spans 16 acres. The hotel design reflects a harmonious amalgamation of European and Rajasthani influences. The property offers 40 rooms, a vegetarian restaurant, multiple lounging areas, a library, spa, outdoor pool, unique dining spaces and multiple venues to host celebrations as well as MICE events.

Lenders to the defunct hotel business of real estate company Rajesh LifeSpaces have set a base price of 350 crore for a final auction of the hotel property at Powai in Mumbai, India as they seek to recover outstanding loans of 621 crore to the firm. Bidders will have to increase their bids by 10 crore in each round with the lowest bids being eliminated. The auction started on January 24. Banks have until early March to submit final resolution plans to the National Company Law Tribunal. The hotel is rare to be up for sale as it has all approvals, like land, building and government licenses for restaurant and liquor in place. Economic Times earlier reported that the banks had received six initial proposals for Rajesh Business & Leisure Hotels, including from DMart promoter Radhakishan Damani’s Bright Star Investments. Other bidders included Sankalp Recreation, Rockwood Hotels & Resorts, Shri Ram Multicom, Unison Hotels and Rare Asset Reconstruction Co. Rajesh Business & Leisure Hotels had tied up with GHM Hotels to operate a 316 room five star hotel under The Chedi brand at Kanjurmarg near Powell but the company could not complete the project due to a liquidity crunch. It had been marked as a non-performing asset on the books of the banks since 2019.

Personnel Moves

Club Med named Valerie Loy as its new vice president of marketing in East, South Asia and Pacific. Loy most recently served as regional director of public relations and marketing communications in the Asia Pacific region for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Kieran Bowers is leaving Swire Properties, and will be succeeded as president by Henry Bott, Swire’s chief representative in Vietnam. Bott was previously involved in Swire Properties Limited’s projects in China, Hong Kong (where Swire is based), and southeast Asia. Bowers will be moving back to the UK with his family in March.

Alan Woinski
January 26th, 2023 at 7:37 AM EST

Companies: Brij Hotels, Club Med, LuLu Group, Swire Hotels

Locations: Bali, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Japan, Kerala, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Thailand

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