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Accor to double its hotels in China in three years

Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel company, plans to more than double the number of hotels in China in the next three years, tapping tourist demand in the company’s fastest-growing market.

Accor SA, which opens its 44th hotel in China today, will open at least another 61 new hotels before 2010, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement. In the Asia Pacific region, Accor has a total of 300 hotels and plans to open 95 new ones in the next two years, mainly in China and India. Accor operates hotels in China under brands including Sofitel, Novotel and Mercure in major cities such as Shanghai, Macau, southern Guangzhou and eastern Nanjing.

The country’s 768.6 billion yuan (€75 billion) travel industry may expand 9.2% annually in the next 10 years, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. China’s economy expanded 10.7% in 2006, the fastest pace in 11 years, and the government is encouraging domestic consumption to make growth sustainable. About 481 hotels are under construction or being planned in China, according to Patrick Ford, president of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based consultant Lodging Econometrics.

 

Wyndham Hotel Group, which manages hotels under brands including Days Inn, Howard Johnson and Ramada, plans to open its first Wyndham luxury hotel in China and expects to double the number of Super 8s in the country to almost 90 next year, the company said last week. London-based InterContinental Group expects to double its Holiday Inns in China to 125 in the next 22 months.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., the third-largest US hotel operator, announced last September that it plans to nearly double its properties in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to 100 from 57 over the next four years. Accor said March 2 that it will expand the number of Ibis hotels under development in China to 40 from six by 2008, tapping demand for budget travel in the country. Visitor arrivals in China rose 10% in 2006, boosting demand for luxury and budget accommodation in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

China, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia are Accor’s main growth drivers in the Asia Pacific region, where its network grew 21% last year as it added 53 hotels in 12 countries, the company said. Accor’s China expansion „reflects China’s position as one of the world’s most dynamic inbound, outbound and domestic travel markets,” said Michael Issenberg, Accor’s Asia Pacific managing director. In India, Accor last November formed a venture with a unit of Emaar Properties PJSC to set up 100 budget hotels in the South Asian nation to take advantage of a shortage of rooms amid rising travel. (Bloomberg)