Marriott International is ramping up its presence in Asia-Pacific as it targets 1,000 properties in the region by 2020, with the US hotel operator identifying China, India and Southeast Asia as its growth drivers. This year alone, the company expects to add about 100 new hotels or close to 20,000 rooms in the region. Marriott said it is well positioned to capitalise on global travel trends in China, India and Indonesia, three of the world’s four most populated nations. “As the world’s leading hospitality company, it is in our DNA to strive to be part of our guests’ favourite moments and memories,” Craig S. Smith, president and managing director of Marriott International Asia-Pacific, told the Hotel Investment Conference - South Asia in Hong Kong on Thursday. Marriott’s portfolio in Asia-Pacific includes 710 properties in 23 countries and territories, where it operates 23 of its 30 global brands. Nasdaq-listed Marriott said China was its strongest growth driver in the region with more than 300 hotels in the pipeline, accounting for some 50 per cent of the openings by 2020. This year, Marriott said, it will open more than 30 hotels in China, including the first JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in the country, the 515-room JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Shanghai Pudong and the first Renaissance Hotel in Fujian province – the Renaissance Xiamen Resort & Spa – in the fourth quarter. The company, however, has faced some embarrassing issues in China. From instant noodles to Alipay; how Marriott hotels are luring Chinese tourists Shanghai authorities shut down the company’s Chinese website in 2018 and launched an investigation after it emailed a Chinese-language questionnaire to its customers in which it listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as countries. Tibet is an autonomous region; Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions, and Taiwan is considered part of China. Marriott then issued five public apologies over the gaffe, but the hotel further angered internet users in the mainland when one of its Twitter accounts was found to have “liked” and shared a post congratulating it for listing the regions as independent countries. In India, the company has lined up more than 50 properties, with some 30,000 rooms expected to be opened by the end of 2023. Southeast Asia will get 140 hotels in Marriott’s pipeline. Data provider Euromonitor International said the hotel industry in Asia-Pacific will continue to grow in value with revenue estimated to hit US$180.6 billion in 2020, up 13 per cent from US$158.8 billion in 2018. Marriott opens on Japan’s remote, sub-tropical Miyako Islands Property consultancy Knight Frank also expressed optimism about the hotel industry in Greater China, a region which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. According to its “Greater China Hotel Report 2018”, demand for premium hotels will continue to rise even as additional supplies come on stream. “China’s hotel market is among the most important markets for global operators. With the government’s initiatives to boost domestic consumption, demand for five-star hotels in the country will remain strong and continue to enjoy robust growth in the coming years,” said David Ji, director and head of research and consultancy for Greater China at Knight Frank. Meanwhile, Dealogic said that investment deals for hotels in Greater China grew to US$533 million in the first quarter of the year from US$442 million a year earlier.