Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels says its Kowloon Hotel still has 10 per cent of its rooms available for the period straddling the handover. Speaking yesterday at the company's annual meeting, chairman Michael Kadoorie said it would not cut prices to boost sales. During the first quarter, the group's flagship hotel Peninsula achieved a 71 per cent occupancy rate while the 736-room Kowloon Hotel was 87 per cent occupied. These rates were in line with last year's figures, the company said. Despite the flat growth, finance and corporate services director Douglas Webster said the company raised its rates by 10 per cent to offset inflation. New China Hong Kong Securities research manager Cliff Shum Kwok-hei said he would not cut his profit forecast for the group despite the vacancies and flat growth figures at the Kowloon Hotel. 'We don't expect any hotel to have a 100 per cent occupancy rate for the [handover] period,' he said. He expected the group's profit to grow 16 per cent to more than $1 billion this year. Although quite a number of hotel groups have expressed interest in bidding for the hotel project at the Tai Kok Tsui Mass Transit Railway station, Mr Kadoorie said the group would instead boost its regional presence. 'We have a lot of [property] assets and two hotels in Hong Kong. We want to concentrate our development in the Pacific region, first on Bangkok, then on Jakarta, and later on move to Sydney,' he said. The group plans to soft launch the Peninsula Bangkok, for which it made a provision of $95 million, in April next year. Louisa Sung Lai-har of Eng Securities Research expects the group to incur a further $42 million provision on the hotel before it opens.