Hotels in many Asia-Pacific cities are expected to exceed their pre- financial crisis performance within the next two years as a result of improving tourism flows and the region's economic recovery, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo are set to see hotels attain their pre-1997 levels, according to the company's half-yearly review of the Asia-Pacific hospitality industry. Hong Kong will probably lag behind because the high prices charged by hotels before the crisis mean it has more ground to make up following the slump. Tokyo and Seoul came closest to matching the revenue per available room achieved in 1996. Two countries saw only 5.4 per cent off their 1996 performance, while Taipei was next at only 7.4 per cent off their 1996 figures. Revenue per available room - which takes into account the occupancy and room rate - is an industry measure of the sector's performance. PricewaterhouseCoopers said hotels in those countries, together with those in Bangkok and Singapore, were widely expected to exceed pre-crisis performance within the next two years. The review said Tokyo recorded the highest revenue per available room at US$131.48 for the six months, up 17.6 per cent over the same period in the preceding year. Seoul scored US$119.13, up 17.3 per cent on the previous corresponding period. Michael Chin, Asia-Pacific director of the company's hospitality and leisure department, said Hong Kong's hotel performance had not managed to improve on its 1996 revenue per available room as the price at the time was extremely high, but hotels in Hong Kong were growing at a healthy pace. During the six-months under review, Hong Kong registered revenue per available room at US$89.87, up 18.3 per cent from US$75.99 in last year's first half. In terms of occupancy, some Hong Kong hotels reported 83.5 per cent during the six months, the highest among Asia-Pacific countries. This compared with 77 per cent achieved over the same period last year. During the six months, Seoul and Tokyo achieved 79.5 per cent occupancy, and Taipei and Singapore registered hotel occupancies in the high 70s. In terms of average daily room rates, Tokyo hotels achieved US$165, while Seoul registered an average rate of US$149, Taipei scored the next best with US$127. Hong Kong achieved a US$107.59 per daily room rate, against US$98.67 achieved in the same period last year. Mr Chin predicted occupancy and room rate in Hong Kong for the full year would sustain this level. He said tourist arrivals surged during the six months, partly due to the effect of the mainland's expected entry to the World Trade Organisation. Many expatriates have moved to Hong Kong awaiting the business expansion into the mainland after its admission to the WTO. Serviced apartments in Hong Kong saw a growing number of short-stay customers. The WTO impact also helped Beijing's hospitality industry, with occupancy scoring 72.3 per cent for the first half. This compared with 67.1 per cent achieved in last year's first half. Mr Chin said average daily room rates in Beijing grew 1.1 per cent for the six months, but a bigger growth potential was expected in the near future.