[photopress:hotelview.jpg,full,alignright]Hotels in China are in a major boom. The largest hotel group in the world, Intercontinental Hotels Group, will double the number of its properties in China by 2008. The company now manages 57 hotels in China. By 2008 it plans to manage 125 properties. It says 50 new hotels are currently in the pipeline, including 15 five-star Crowne Plaza hotels. The company says it will continue to expand beyond China’s biggest cities. The company opened a Crowne Plaza hotel in Qingdao in June and another in Changshu opened two weeks ago.
Why the surge of activity? According to the World Tourism Association, China is currently the fourth most popular tourist destination in the world, and could reach the number two spot in 10 years. China could become the world’s most visited country by 2020, surpassing the US, which welcomes 130 million visitors annually. As a result, China’s hotel industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Foreign investment in China’s newest hotel properties is surprising. Patrick Ford, CEO of US hotel industry research group, Lodging Econometric, said, ‘It is hot to the highest point. For hotel operators, China is one of the most attractive places in the world. Therefore, the funds are being invested in an endless stream and major international hotel brands are vying to get in.’
Why the massive interest from overseas? The Ritz-Carlton Hotel manager Gong Borui said, ‘Prada or Mont Blanc can be imitated, but it is impossible to counterfeit luxury services. The living experience cannot be imitated.’ Patrick Ford agress,’None of the Chinese brands can match the Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Westinghouse and other big names.’ Which is why domestic hotel operators are working toward alliances with the international players.