Marriott bets on mainland tourist market with 90 hotels by 2015
Daniel Ren in Shanghai
Marriott International said yesterday it aimed to have 90 hotels on the mainland by 2015 - nearly double the current number - as it bets on rapid growth in the country's tourism market.
The largest hotel chain in the US said the mainland had become its most important market outside North America.
'The company is betting big on China,' J.W. Marriott Jr, chairman and chief executive of Marriott, told a briefing yesterday, adding that the mainland would become the world's busiest tourist destination in the coming 10 years.
The newly announced plan in China represents Marriott's renewed efforts to expand in the world's third-largest economy.
Last year, the company said it planned to have 70 hotels in China by 2013. It currently has 46 hotels on the mainland.
The chairman said there were already more than 20 properties under construction that would likely be added into Marriott's portfolio in China.
It expects to have 60 hotels in operation on the mainland by the end of this year.
To date, six of Marriott's brands, including JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, are operating in China.
Arne Sorenson, president and chief operating officer of Marriott, said the company planned to introduce a moderately priced brand to the mainland soon.
The company's sales on the mainland accounted for less than 10 per cent of its global total, Sorenson said.
The hospitality industry has been growing rapidly in China in recent years as the affluence of the country's expanding middle class rises and demand for business travel increases.
J.W. Marriott Jr expected China would host 2.1 billion domestic and international tourists this year - up 12 per cent from 2009.
According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the new supply of internationally branded hotel rooms in Beijing is expected to rise 10 per cent this year, hitting 29,521 rooms. In Shanghai, the number of rooms would jump 34.3 per cent to 32,045.
Hotels were believed to be the top beneficiaries of the six-month World Expo in Shanghai that will run until October 31.
Organisers predicted that 70 million people would visit the international fair, 5 to 10 per cent of whom are from abroad.
The Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration said in April that accommodation prices in the city's 310 star-rated hotels and 6,000 inns were expected to rise slightly during the expo.