STRONG buyer demand among Asian nations lifted Australian hotel sales to A$621 million (about HK$3.53 billion) last year, representing a ''phenomenal increase'', according to the latest Colliers Jardine report. The market was dominated by Singaporeans, who accounted for 34 per cent of last year's sales and almost all of the big acquisitions during the first quarter of this year. The report said Asia dominated buying with Singapore purchasing $211.14 million worth of Australian hotel and tourism properties in 1993, followed by Malaysia with $130.41 million, Hong Kong and Australia at level pegging with $86.94 million and Indonesia with $37.26 million. Other countries snapped up $68.31 million of the market share. Colliers Jardine attributed the activity to the weak Australian dollar set against strengthening Asian currencies, and the feeling hotels were selling for well below replacement cost. The buying was not confined to cities, with the rapidly growing New South Wales coastal region of Coffs Harbour and Parramatta in western Sydney, only a 10-minute drive from the Olympic Games 2000 venue, being targeted by investors. While activity was concentrated in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland, Western Australia also enjoyed new interest late last year and early this year. The Colliers report indicated activity would continue, with the only constraint being lack of stock, and that values would continue to strengthen. The report outlined a positive future for the hotel industry after a ''prolonged period of loss-making or low profit'' with demand eventually surpassing supply in all major tourist centres. The report attributed one of the factors for the upswing on ''owner involvement in the operation of tourism assets reaching a new high''. It said in the acquisition of the management rights to Hamilton Island by Holiday Inn, there was a ''shift towards strict performance criteria and increased owners' involvement''. The report showed Cairns in Queensland's tropical far north had the highest average occupancy rate (80 per cent) last year. This was followed by Brisbane, which recorded a 12 per cent increase to 72 per cent, topping even the previous record high set during the 1988 World Expo. The Gold Coast also surpassed the Expo figures with a 70 per cent average occupancy rate, followed by Sydney with 62 per cent. Sydney is tipped to rise to a 75 per cent occupancy rate in 1999, climbing to an 80 per cent peak in the Olympics 2000 year.