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Accor to Expand China Footprint
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Accor, one of the world's largest hotel chains, said it plans to open 18 hotels in China this year and double its footprint on the mainland within two years.


The new hotels are aimed at the growing - and increasingly competitive - up-scale travel market.


The group is well positioned for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, said Robert Murray, Accor's senior vice-president for China, who was a senior executive for the company in Sydney during the 2000 Olympic Games.


There are currently 44 hotels under the Accor name on the mainland, and the group hopes to add 80 more by 2008.


The 18 hotels to open this year will be "a mixture of new hotels and takeovers of existing hotels", Murray said.


"I went through the Olympic Games in 2000, so I have experience in Sydney. We are going to follow a similar process in Beijing for the 2008 Games," he said.


Accor, which runs both luxury and budget chains, will focus on developing economy hotels, which have received stronger demand than luxury hotels on the mainland, according to Murray.


"Our budget hotel Ibis proved to be the most popular on the mainland, receiving floods of guests each year. The economy hotel sector represents a great opportunity, and this sector will get more competitive," Murray told China Daily.


"Although developers are attracted to our high profile brands, not all properties are suitable for the highest tier, particularly for the conversion of existing properties. There are several issues to consider, including room size, competition in the market segment and room rates," he said.


Accor's competitor, InterContinental Hotel Group, the world's largest hotel company by number of rooms, also plans on extending its network on the mainland.


InterContinental, the operator of the Holiday Inn chain, said it would increase the number of hotels on the mainland from 68 to 125 by the end of 2008.


(China Daily June 8, 2007)


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