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)