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Maldives Hotel Bookings Are Victims of Social Media Spat

Alan Woinski

January 8th, 2024

Skift Take

  • China’s hotel RevPAR surged 56.1% year-over-year for the week ending December 30th, showing a significant recovery compared to the previous year’s decline.
  • The Maldives experienced a backlash from Indian tourists, with a significant number of hotel booking and flight ticket cancellations, following offensive comments by Maldivian politicians against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Major hotel groups are announcing new projects and expansions, such as Accor’s partnership to launch Grande Mercure Jaipur Kukas in India, and Oberoi Group’s legal setback in Himachal Pradesh.

STR reported China hotel data for the week ended December 30th. Hotel RevPAR in China surged 56.1% year over year for the week. It was up against an easy decline of -17.7% comp in 2022. When compared with 2019, Chinahotel RevPAR was up a solid 21.5%.

Singapore hotels’ performance was mostly steady in November as the Singapore Tourism Board said average room rates and other key measures were either flat or slightly down from October. Singapore’s international visitor arrivals did fall for the fourth straight month, to 1,100,459, down -2.3% from October. Colliers suggested in a report that Singapore hotel room rates may have peaked for most hotel segments, at least for now, as consumers grow more price conscious. Labor shortages have been easing so they feel hoteliers have more confidence to boost occupancy levels, especially at big box properties, and that will be at the expense of average rates. Average room rate fell by -1.8% to S$277.40 from October’s revised rate of S$278.42. Overall hotel room revenue fell by -4.7% year on year to S$408.8 million. RevPAR was down -9.5% on the year to S$219.13 from S$216.60 in October. This was the second month in a row of year over year RevPAR declines. November’s occupancy rate inched up to 79% from 77.8% in October.

Indonesia tourism officials have set a 2024 tourism target of 24 million visitors, led by Bali. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy said they are setting ambitious targets to elevate Indonesia’s status as a premier global destination, particularly emphasizing Bali’s role. In 2023 Bali was aiming to welcome 4.5 million international tourists and they almost had that by October. Australia remains a key source market, with over 122,000 Australian tourists recorded in October alone. Looking to 2024, Indonesia is planning a substantial focus on green tourism, spotlighting destinations like Nirup Island Batam, Boyotomo Bintan and Lagoi Resort Bintan in the Riau Islands. In 2023, 1.5 million of the 11 million international arrivals entered Indonesia through Riau Islands. They are aiming for 3 million foreign tourists to Riau Islands in 2024, matching pre-pandemic levels.

Indians took a lot of offense to comments from Maldivian politicians against Prime Minister Narendra Modi following Modi’s visit to the Lakshadweep Islands. Thus, #BoycottMaldives began trending on social media and it has taken on a life of its own. Reports of cancellations of over 8,000 hotel bookings and more than 2,500 flight tickets by Indians to Maldives have been showing up on social media. Skift, parent company of this publication, said they spoke with a few travel companies on Sunday night and no cancellations were reported but by Monday morning, some reports were trickling in. The chairman of the Aviation and Tourism committee of the Indian Chamber of Commerce sent out an appeal to all tourism trade associations to stop promoting Maldives and asked Indian carriers to suspend operations to the archipelago. India was the biggest source market for tourism in 2023 with over 11% share. What happened was Modi shared scenic pictures from his visit to the Indian archipelago of Lakshadweep on X, the former Twitter. That prompted tweets that he was suggesting Indian tourists consider alternatives to visits to the Maldives. Three deputy ministers of the Maldives took offense to the comments and allegedly called Modi a clown and puppet of Israel. The rest is history.

Accor has partnered with Shree Kamalam Elite Resorts Pvt Ltd to launch Grande Mercure Jaipur Kukas, the 8th Grand Mercure property in India. The upscale property is set to open in 2028. It will be a six-story hotel spread across 16,522 square meters and will feature 160 rooms and three food and beverage outlets including a restaurant, bar, and specialty restaurant. For the MICE business, the hotel will have 2,000 square meters comprising a conference room and two banquet halls. Other amenities will include a spa and salon, gym, and swimming pool.

Oberoi Group’s East India Hotels received bad news as the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered it to hand over the possession of Hotel Wildflower Hall to Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation within two months. The order has paved the way for the hotel’s possession by the HPTDC by rejecting the review petition filed by EIH group against the court order passed on November 17, 2023.

Bengaluru-based Hansoge Enterprises has sold a hotel asset spread over 1.5 lakh sft in the Indian city in a deal estimated to be around INR 150 crore to an ultra-high net worth individual. The midscale boutique 175 room hotel is located near Bengaluru International Airport and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The asset was with JC Flowers, an Asset Reconstruction Company, the Trustee, and the Bank. Colliers India facilitated the sale of the boutique hotel in Bengaluru. Hansoge Enterprises is part of the Ozone Group. The name of the buyer was not disclosed.

Sorrel Hospitality, the master franchisee for India for BWH Hotels, will start pitching for the World Hotels portfolio in the India market. BWH Hotels acquired the WorldHotels soft brand in 2019. Sorrel received the rights to the brand for South Asia region recently and expects to sign a couple of properties in India soon. BWH’s portfolio in India consists of 31 operational hotels with a collective inventory of 1,800 rooms with about 20 more in the pipeline. Aiden is their new designer brand, currently with two operational hotels.

The Sun Group and Hilton officially inaugurated the La Festa Phu Cuoc, Curio Collection by Hilton in Vietnam. The hotel is located in the Sunset Town community, in the southwest coast of Phu Quoc Island. The hotel features 197 rooms with 13 distinct categories ranging from 30 to 143 square meters. The Mediterranean-style hotel offers a stunning view overlooking the new Kiss Bridge. The luxury hotel offers four restaurants.

Personnel Moves

Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced the expansion of its senior leadership team in India and Southwest Asia. Deepa Krishnan was appointed as Head of Marketing and Prasad Narulkar was named Director of Digital, marking a significant step in advancing Hyatt’s brand portfolio. Krishnan was appointed Head of Marketing – India and Southwest Asia. Her previous roles were Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Innovation, to name a couple, previously working at Tata Starbucks, Diageo, Godrej, and Idea Cellular. Narulkar has assumed the role of Director – Digital for India and Southwest Asia for Hyatt. He previously worked with brands like Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, IDBI Bank, and Jio. Additionally, Anadita Singh was appointed as Senior Manager – Openings and Transitions for India and Southwest Asia to synergize growth efforts in the region.

Alan Woinski

January 8th, 2024

Companies: Accor, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection by Hilton, Grand Mercure Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Oberoi Group, Sorrel Hospitality

Locations: Bali, Bengaluru, China, Himachal Pradesh, India, Jaipur, Maldives, Phu Quoc, Singapore

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