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Chinese Outbound Travel Continues to Expand

Alan Woinski
February 22nd, 2023 at 7:42 AM EST

Skift Take

  • Singapore has urged Chinese authorities to restore flight capacity between the two nations to pre-Covid levels as soon as possible in a bid to improve business and tourism ties.
  • South Korea will increase the number of flights into the country from China to 80 from 62 per week by the end of this month.
  • European Union countries have agreed to phase out pre-departure Covid testing for travelers from China by the end of the month.

Singapore has urged Chinese authorities to restore flight capacity between the two nations to pre-Covid levels as soon as possible in a bid to improve business and tourism ties. The Straits Times said Singapore’s Foreign Minister made the request to his Chinese counterpart during a meeting this week. The number of weekly flights between the two is currently just 56 compared to 400 in 2019 despite Beijing having dropped most international border restrictions from January 8. The restoration of such links was Singapore’s number one request during the meeting, aiming to facilitate free movement of business people, tourists and students on both sides.

South Korea will increase the number of flights into the country from China to 80 from 62 per week by the end of this month. South Korea’s Prime Minster made this announcement saying this is Seoul’s latest step to ease curbs on travelers from China. They expect to gradually expand the flights to 100 per week from next month as was agreed by the two countries. This follows China announcing it will resume issuing short term visas for travelers from South Korea following SK’s lifting of similar visa curbs last week. Seoul is expected to drop remaining border restrictions, including mandatory Covid tests for arrivals from China shortly. The number of Chinese tourists arriving in January was 30,648, more than triple the number in January 2022.

European Union countries have agreed to phase out pre-departure Covid testing for travelers from China by the end of the month. China welcomed the decision, indicating it will promote communications between China and the EU. Chinese media had widely criticized EU countries for over-reacting at the time they put the restrictions on, noting the Covid variant in China had already been spread in the EU. If you haven’t noticed or read the news stories about how the floodgates did not open for Chinese visitors like so many countries had hoped, the arms race has begun to who gets the most visitors in March.

Macau’s February tourism has seen an average of 56,208 daily visitors and 75.5% hotel occupancy. This is better than January which already beat the estimates from the Macau Government Tourism Office, not that the MGTO has a good estimate track record. The MGTO said they expect visitation from mainland China and Hong Kong to gradually increase this year while noting they are also banking on more tourists from Taiwan and short-haul international markets as air links gradually return and it continues its promotional efforts and attractions in the city increase. The MGTO is laying out some US$74.35 million throughout the year allocated in diverse activities to boost visitation to the city in all markets.

Dusit International officially marked the debut of Dusit Hotels and Resorts in Japan with an exclusive preview of its upcoming properties – ASAI Kyoto Shijo and Dusit Thani Kyoto, set to open in June and September, respectively. Dusit Thani Kyoto will offer a luxurious stay experience in the city’s Hanganji Monzen-machi district, only 850 meters from Kyoto Station and close to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nishi Honganji Temple. The property will have 150 guest rooms set over four floors, large event spaces, a fitness center, signature Devarana Wellness center, restaurants, social club, tea shop and more. ASAI Kyoto Shijo will have 114 rooms, located in Shijo-Karasuma, near the famous Nishiki Market in the city’s renowned Downtown area.

Billionaire couple Andrew and Nicola Forrest have expanded their tourism footprint with the purchase of the planned high end 220-room Waldorf Astoria hotel at Sydney’s Circular Quay precinct for a reported $575 million. Under the plan their Tattarang arm will buy the future 25-story tower which is part of the $3.1 billion One Circular Quay project from Lendlease and its joint venture partner Mitsubishi Estate Asia. This is expected to be the first Waldorf Astoria to open in Australia. The deal also includes 11 retail sites under the hotel and the adjoining residential tower that Lendlease and Mitsubishi will retain. The residential tower will include 158 residences, including six sub-penthouses on levels 50 to 55 and a three level penthouse which will have five bedrooms. The JV will develop all the project which sits on the site of the former Gold Fields House. Mitsubishi Estate holds a 66.7% interest in the JV. The majority of the sale price will be paid upfront, after which a funding cost will be deducted off the gross price, taking it back to about $500 million. Tattarang’s portfolio already includes Lizard Island in Far North Queensland, the Gaia Retreat & Spa in Byron Bay and Cape Lodge in Margaret River, Western Australia. Construction of both the hotel and residential tower at One Circular Quay will begin shortly with the hotel due to open in late 2026.

CBRE said a duo of Quest-branded hotels in the southeast Queensland locations of Chermside and Ipswich have been listed for sale by a private owner. CBRE is managing the sale via an Expression of Interest campaign, closing March 23. The recently renovated Quest Ipswich is situated on a 4,556 square meter site and incorporates 32 self-contained apartments across 64 keys in studio, one, two and three bedroom configurations. Guest services include a meeting and conference room, on-site reception, outdoor swimming pool, and on-site parking. Quest Chermside is on a 1,220sqm site and comprises 54 serviced apartments with studio and one-bedroom configurations, on-site reception, meeting and conference facilities and undercover parking.

Ahead of what they hope will be their long-planned IPO, OYO announced it plans to double the number of premium hotels in India in 2023. Its premium hotel brands include hotels such as Townhouse OakOYO Townhouse, Collection O and Capital O. OYO is planning to add 1,800 premium hotels this year with the focus beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022 when it added more than 400 premium hotels between October to December. Their expansion will focus on key business cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai in South India; Delhi and NOIDA in North India; Kolkata in East India; and Mumbai in West India.

ITC Hotels’ Fortune Hotels has further expanded its reach into Uttar Pradesh with a new alliance in Kanpur. The hotel chain’s existing hotels in the state include Ghaziabad, Noida, Aligarh and Lucknow. Located on NH91 the premium hotel is expected to open in the winter of 2025 and will be branded as Fortune Park. The upscale hotel will offer a mix of indoor and outdoor dining venues, large banquets, compact meeting rooms and wellness facilities.

India Hotels Company announced the signing of a Taj-branded resort and spa in Gandhinagar. The brownfield resort is slated to open in early 2023. IHCL is partnering with the Sankalp Group again on this 118 key resort. It will include a Jiva Spa as the highlight, including eight treatment rooms, relaxation lounge, sensory lounge, spa café, meditation room, sauna and steam, Turkish hammam, swimming pool and a fitness center. The resort will have an all-day diner, specialty restaurant, and a lobby lounge. With the addition of this hotel, IHCL will have 21 hotels across Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta and Ginger brands across Gujarat including five under development.

Alan Woinski
February 22nd, 2023 at 7:42 AM EST

Companies: CBRE Hotels, Dusit International, Fortune, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, ITC Hotels, OYO Hotels, Quest Apartment Hotels, Taj, The Ascott Limited, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Locations: Bangalore, China, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kyoto, Macau, Mumbai, Queensland, Singapore, South Korea, Sydney, Uttar Pradesh

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