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Japan Sees American Visitor Count Top 2019 Levels

Alan Woinski
June 14th, 2023 at 7:30 AM EDT

Skift Take

  • American visitor arrivals to Japan increased by 3.6% in the first four months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019, making the U.S. the only Western nation, apart from Mexico, to experience a rise in tourism to Japan.
  • Hongkong Land unveiled its $8 billion Shanghai West Bund Financial Hub project, which will include office buildings, luxury residential apartments, hotels, a public art center, and retail spaces. The development will be completed in three phases by 2027, and Hongkong Land plans to roll out 10 new developments in China in the next five years.
  • Macau Legend Development announced its intention to sell its Laos gaming operation for $45 million to a Japanese citizen, as the company has faced financial difficulties and its owner has been arrested. After the sale, Macau Legend will have remaining plans to build a hotel and casino in Cape Verde.

The Japan National Tourism Organization announced that American visitor arrivals to Japan increased by 3.6% in the first four months of 2023 over the same January – April period in 2019. In the month of April alone, nearly 184,000 Americans visited Japan, up 8% over April 2019. That makes the US the only Western nation, aside from Mexico, to experience a rise in tourism to Japan. Mexico saw a 13.1% increase in its visitor numbers to Japan over the same period.

Hongkong Land has unveiled its development pipeline for mainland China. The most high-profile project will be the $8 billion Shanghai West Bund Financial Hub. It will consist of office buildings, luxury residential apartments, hotels, a public art center and Central, its flagship premium lifestyle retail series. The development will be done in three phases with offices, the majority of luxury retail and a luxury hotel being completed by 2027. This is billed as the largest single project investment ever made by Hongkong Land. In the next five years, Hongkong Land plans to roll out 10 new developments under the Central and The Ring series in Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai, adding another 3 million square feet of retail floor space to their retail portfolio in the Chinese Mainland.

Songtsam, a collection of boutique luxury hotels, resorts and destinations in the Tibet and Yunnan Provinces of China, announced the official opening of Songtsam Glamping Palpa, its first glamping property in Tibet. It is located in Baiba Village, 13,898 feet above sea level, situated on the Niyang River in Nyingchi. Songtsam Glamping Palpa has 30 accommodation tents, four dining tents and one public leisure tent. 

Makati Shangri-La announced they are reopening their doors this year. The Manila, Philippines, property closed its doors temporarily in February 2021, saying that with the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, they decided to reorganize its workforce and operations in the Philippines. The date being given for the reopening of the luxury hotel is August 8.

Best Western Hotels announced the opening of a major extension at Best Western Plus Metro Clark in the Philippines. Situated in the heart of Angeles City, the 14-story hotel has been upgraded and rebranded. It was formerly known as Best Western Metro Clark but now offers a total of 186 contemporary rooms, three international dining options, outdoor pool, fitness center and extensive event space.

Macau Legend Development announced its intention to sell its entire interest in its Laos gaming operation – Savan Legend Resorts Hotel and Entertainment Complex. Macau Legend said they would sell the operations to Shundo Yoshinari, a Japanese citizen, for $45 million. Macau Legend is a company in trouble, ringing up years of losses and then purchased by Chan Weng Lin who subsequently was arrested and sent to prison for charges of illegal gambling. The Lao PDR was purchased by Macau Legend in 2016 for $42 million, paid to the Laos Government who had seized the property from previous operator Sanum Investments in 2012. With the exception of the money-losing Macau Fisherman’s Wharf complex, the only thing Macau Legend will have left after this sale is their delayed plans to build a hotel and casino in Cape Verde.

South Korea’s Paradise Co said it has refinanced KRW500 billion (US$395 million) in loans taken out in 2018 for Phase 1 and Phase 2 developments of its Incheon integrated resort, Paradise City. The refinanced loan takes effect as of June 19, 2023 and has a maturity date of June 19, 2028. They originally took out a loan of KRW800 billion in October 2018 but is also refinancing KRW30 billion in working capital to mature on June 19, 2024. Paradise Co holds a 55% interest in Paradise SegaSammy Co Ltd. with the other 45% held by Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings. Paradise is the operator of four foreigner-only casinos in South Korea with the others being located in Seoul, Busan and Jeju.

Indian Hotels Company announced the signing of a Vivanta-branded hotel in Guwahati, Assam. The greenfield project is slated to open by 2026. This will be IHCL’s fourth hotel in Guawahati. They are partnering with Asian Medical and Research Pvt. Ltd. on the hotel in the city, known as the gateway to the North-East. The 150 key hotel will be strategically situated in close proximity to important commercial centers and to Dispur, the capital of Assam. The hotel will include Mynt, Vivanta brand’s signature all-day diner, the bar and recreational facilities including a swimming pool and a fitness center. The hotel will have over 4,000 square feet of banqueting and meeting spaces. With the addition of this hotel, IHCL will have four hotels in Assam including two under development.

Kishore Hospitality Group has successfully revitalized and converted a villa in Dalhousie in India, originally constructed during the 1850s as a summer sanctuary for British officials, into a boutique hotel that exudes opulence and charm. Elgin Hall includes seven uniquely designed rooms, each with its own distinct identity and aesthetic appeal. The property will offer a curated culinary experience that blends traditional North Indian delicacies with influences from Asian and international cuisines.

Fortune Hotels announced the opening of its newest hotel in the scenic town of Khajjiar. Fortune Khajjiar is set in the heart of ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India, offering an enchanting retreat surrounded by towering pine trees, snow-capped mountains and lush green meadows, situated an hour’s drive from the tourist hot spot Dalhousie. The hotel offers rooms and suites, an all-day diner, chic bar, modern banquet hall, swimming pool, kids play area and a soon to open gym and restful spa.

Minor International formalized its 95.8% stake in NH Hotels after finalizing the share purchase plan through which it has acquired another 7.2 million shares, equivalent to 1.66% of its capital. That raised their stake from 94.132% to 95.865%.

Personnel Move

Pro-Invest Hotels announced the appointment of Jean-Baptiste Robert to the role of Regional Director Food & Beverage. The new role involves overseeing the strategic direction and operations of the F&B of all the group’s hotels across the Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, voco, Holiday Inn Express and The Sebel brands. Jean-Baptiste spent the past 18 years working in the travel and hospitality industry in Australia across hotels, resorts and multi-venue establishments. Prior to joining Pro-Invest Hotels, Jean-Baptiste worked with the Trippas White Group as General Manager at Sydney Tower Dining and QVB Venues.

Alan Woinski
June 14th, 2023 at 7:30 AM EDT

Companies: Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Best Western Plus, Fortune, ITC Hotels, Minor Hotels, NH Hotels, Pro-Invest Hotels, Shangri-La Group, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Songtsam, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd, Vivanta

Locations: Assam, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalhousie, Hangzhou, Incheon, Japan, Manila, Nanjing, Philippines, Shanghai, Suzhou, Tibet, Wuhan, Yunnan

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