Trends in hotel development in the Far East – with key statistics from top analysts

According to the UNWTO, international arrivals to Asia grew by 8% last year, fuelled by strong demand from both intra- and interregional source markets. For 2017, UWTO forecasts that Asia should see growth in arrivals by 5%. This provides good perspectives for hoteliers, especially international groups.

The deceleration in the growth rate in arrivals to Asia is mostly due to a slowdown in growth from the Chinese outbound market, which is entering a maturing phase. However, this could be profitable for China’s domestic travel demand thanks to a weakening Yuan and to the measures to dampen consumption adopted by the government to avoid an overheating of the economy. While international travel consumption from China is slowing, regional destinations such as Malaysia, Thailand or Korea are likely to remain attractive for Chinese consumers, thanks to their proximity, low air fares and value in packages.

All segments of the travel industry continue to expand to fill up the demand for business and leisure travel of a growing middle class and boosting business and leisure travel. Simplified visa formalities in many Asian countries (Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam among others) are also stimulating global travel demand.

Hotels are consequently seeing the benefits of this boom in tourism on the continent. In his report for the First Quarter 2017, international consulting cabinet Colliers analyses that hotels’ RevPAR growth in the region is closely correlated to that of economic performance and will then stimulate intra-regional and domestic tourism to destinations.

On average, in 2017, Colliers expects RevPAR growth to continue to be impacted by foreign currencies movements, the further evolution of low cost carriers (LCC) and the destinations they serve, together with economic performance and consumer confidence in key source markets.

The Chinese hotel market has witnessed exponential growth in recent years and changed to become more sophisticated, especially as local owners secure investments in international operators. After growing mostly in Chinese metropolises, international upscale hotels but also international budget/middle class properties are spreading into regional primary and secondary destinations. Among cities enjoying a surge in international chains are Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Kunming, Shenzhen, Tianjing, Wuhan, Xiamen or Xian.


Among China top metropolises, Shanghai continues to attract international investors. According to Colliers, RevPAR in Shanghai has increased steadily, despite the high room supply the city is expected to witness over the next five years. Colliers estimated that 9,000 new rooms are due to be added in Shanghai over the next five years, with over 23,000 in the pipeline.

Pearl Tower Detail Shanghai, China © China Tours Hamburg


Another strong growing destination in Northeast Asia is Tokyo, with international arrivals boosted by the easing of visa formalities, as well as the opening of Japanese skies to low cost carriers. In 2015, Tokyo attracted 11.8 million overnight visitors, who stayed 67.8m nights while domestic travellers generated to the Japanese capital some 150 million trips. Occupancy rates in hotels are at record level at over 90%.

Sakura, Chidorigafuchi Moat, Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan © Arashiyama.jpg


In Southeast Asia, Colliers identifies Phnom Penh and Phuket as attractive destinations for investors while the market in Singapore remains difficult despite almost full occupancy.

The Cambodian capital is expecting a flux of new international hotel projects as restriction on ownership has been overhauled while “more transparent” rules have been now guaranteed towards overseas investors. Large international events such as the hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in 2023 are boosting the development of international properties.

King Norodom statue and two stupas, Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia © Marcin Konsek.jpg


Phuket is now in full swing as demand increased strongly after years of political turmoil in Thailand. Phuket witnessed a total number of 9.3 million tourists arrivals who generated 40.8 million nights. RevPAR has decreased on average by 3.8% between 2012 and 2015, mainly due to the downturn in 2014, in conjunction with a strong increase in room supply. However, recovery was in full swing in 2016 with RevPar upby4%.Thisisdueto the return of Chinese and Russian travellers as well as the introduction of new intercontinental and regional flights.

According to Hotel Consultant Bill Barnett, based in Phuket, “the industry is continuing to attract new developments with more brand affiliated properties. A total of 5,584 keys are expected to come on stream by 2020.” Among brand hotels planned over the next three years in the island are Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton, Indigo, Intercontinental, Kempinski, Mövenpick, Park Hyatt, Radisson, Ramada and Sheraton.

Wat Chalong - one of the temples