Carlson Hotels Worldwide, which owns five hotel franchises in the Asia-Pacific, is bracing itself for a downturn in global tourism that has already put on hold some expansion projects planned by the region's hospitality developers. But while many traditional tourist destinations may be hard-hit by the economic turmoil, 'internal tourism' in China and India, where the group is well represented, could help ease the impact of slower international travel on Carlson Hotel's revenue, said Martin Rinck, head of Asia-Pacific operations. 'Based on the fundamentals and underlying strength of domestic travel in China and India, the Asia-Pacific region is better off than many countries such as the United States,' Mr Rinck said. 'As a result, we see both crisis and opportunities.' One of the largest private corporations in the US, Carlson Hotels licenses franchises for Regent Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, and Park Inn. Its branded hotels are found in nearly 1,000 locations in 70 countries. Some 12,000 rooms were due to be added by hotel developers to the Carlson-branded outlets in the Asia-Pacific, but 15 per cent of these proposed projects had now been put on hold and the outlook for a further 30 per cent of the expansions planned by developers had been clouded, said Mr Rinck. He said the group had responded to these developments by focusing on the mainland and had teamed up with local property developer Sunshine 100 for new hotels, he said. However, the liquidity crunch has called into question the viability of Carlson's co-operation with London-based financier Lotus Hotel Investment Fund. The alliance formed 12 months ago, aimed to raise up to US$3 billion in capital to finance hotel purchases in China and India while Carlson managed the assets. Mr Rinck also conceded that tight liquidity in the world financial system had put doubts on the go-ahead for up to 30 per cent of the 12,000 new rooms due to be added to the brands, while 15 per cent were on hold. 'Some new projects are in doubt, which means the industry will see lower supply and reduced competition. So the overall impact may not be as bad as people think,' he said. But the tourism slump could see revenue per available room - or yield - decline 5 per cent next year for hotels in the Asia-Pacific, driven by lower occupancy, he said. Some consultants have estimated that the growth of the yield could fall to as low as a single digit this year from last year's 18 per cent. Some 1,500 new rooms in the Carlson's brand were in the pipeline, Mr Rinck said. A plan to add another 1,500 new rooms in the next six to eight months was on the cards, said Carlson executive vice-president for Asia-Pacific, Xerxes Meher-Homji. Carlson has teamed with mainland developer Sunshine 100 for the new projects. Meanwhile, Geneva-based hotel investor and operator Sovereign Hospitality Holdings plans a foray into the mainland market by buying hotel properties in Beijing and Shanghai, according to Dominic Seely, the senior vice-president for acquisitions and development. The group, which is part of century-old conglomerate MA Kharafi Group of Kuwait, aims to take advantage of falling property prices on the mainland. The company earmarked a minimum cash outlay of US$500 million for its foray into Asia over the next 10 years, Mr Seely said. He added that the group planned to acquire properties, convert them into hotels and assign major international hoteliers to operate them.