Marriott International has outlined plans to double its footprint in China over the next five years, beginning with the addition of seven further properties in 2010.
China is already the largest market for the hotel group outside of North America, with Marriott now expecting to have some 60 hotels open by the end of the year.
Some eight of these will fly the company’s Ritz-Carlton flag.
Pictured: JW Marriott addresses the first session of the Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Beijing this morning
Speaking at the annual Global Travel & Tourism Summit today in Beijing, JW Marriott Jr explained China had been ideally placed to weather the economic downturn, investing in infrastructure – including a new Beijing airport, high-speed rail network and improved telecommunications – just as competitor nations were cutting back on spending.
“China is arguably the world’s most compelling tourism market today,” he added.
“Its buoyant tourism industry will host 2.1 billion domestic and international tourists this year, an increase of 12 per cent over 2009.
“Within the next ten years, China is expected to be the world’s single largest source of international tourism and its number-one travel destination.”
The seven newly-signed hotels include the new 320-room luxury JW Marriott Hotel Dalian, an upscale 507-room Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa, and the deluxe 269-room Renaissance Zhuhai Hotel.
All seven properties will be opened in partnership with local Chinese investors.
“We are excited to be part of this dynamic growth with our close partners in the Chinese real estate community who develop and own the hotels we operate under our brands, and we are tremendously pleased to add these seven properties to our pipeline in China,” continued Mr Marriott.
Nobility of Nature
Mr Marriott also confirmed the hotel group would invest RMB3.4 million ($500,000) to support a vital water conservation program that helps protect the largest source of fresh water on the planet, located in the mountains of south-west China.
The program will focus its work in Sichuan Province, the area hit hard by the 2008 earthquake.
Concurrently, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels throughout China have committed to reducing their water and energy use by 25 per cent by 2017.
“We have already cut our use of water by 15 per cent in China, along with a 13 per cent fall in energy, Mr Marriott told delegates.
“There’s a Chinese proverb, ‘when drinking the water, consider the source’,” he added.
“Water is the key to prosperity and sustained economic growth.
“Helping to develop viable ways to preserve the water supply and conserve water in our hotels is important to our business, our associates and our customers,” he added.
The program - called the Nobility of Nature - is designed to assist rural communities in Sichuan Province with sustainable businesses, such as mushroom farming and honey production, which will place less stress on the environment.