Asia Pacific's strong economies and tourism markets will fuel hotel investments this year to at least US$7 billion, a record from last year's US$5.25 billion, according to a hotel consultant.
Last year's figure was more than double that of 2005 and 73 per cent higher than in 2004. It was a banner year for Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels said yesterday.
The value of hotel assets in the region was rising, driven by limited availability of assets, soaring competition and strong operating performance of hotels, it said.
'We expect to see more transactions in more markets throughout this year as investor interest spreads into new markets especially China, India and Vietnam, although Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo are expected to remain investment hot spots in 2007,' the group's managing director in Asia, Scott Hetherington, said.
With the majority of hotel stock in Asia closely held by family-owned companies from Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, investors are increasingly hunting for investment-grade assets in China, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Laos and Bali.
Mr Hetherington expected an outflow of some United States investors, which have piled up significant Asian hotel assets over the past few years.
'This will continue in 2007 as they take advantage of the favourable global environment while some companies are also taking the opportunity to dispose of non-core assets,' he said.
Last year saw the return of Middle East investors especially in Malaysia, a trend expected to continue this year.
The Asia Pacific accounted for only a fraction of total world investment of US$70 billion last year, the consultant said.