There has been a slow recovery in the China hospitality market, according to the latest figures from STR.
Addressing the Hospitality Tomorrow conference this morning, Jesper Palmqvist, area director in Asia Pacific for the analytics company, said there had been a return to some “normal patterns” at properties in the country.
This meant a weekday recovery, with hotels filling up with business travellers.
However, occupancy levels remain subdued, with hotels currently around 40 per cent full.
Over the last seven-to-ten days, and the Labour Day weekend, occupancy returned to 50 per cent in some areas, he added.
This was focused on leisure markets, around lakes and mountains, for example.
Looking ahead, STR questioned whether demand will flatten at this level, or continue to grow.
The market is driven exclusively by domestic demand, with no international flights, meaning there is a ceiling that can be reached.
Only when airlift is reintroduced can the market fully recover, Palmqvist said.
He explained that economy and mid-scale hotels had been the first to recover.
“The industry is too strong not to rebound – China is really pulling ahead, and the rest of the world is looking in this destination to see how we might get beyond Covid-19.
“The recovery cannot be rushed – but everything will be okay in the end, an if it is not okay, it is not the end,” he joked.
This tentative optimism was mirrored by Marriott International, which released its first quarter results earlier.
“The resilience of travel demand is evident in the improving trends we see in Greater China,” said Arne Sorenson, chief executive of Marriott International.
“Occupancy at our hotels in the region reached 25 per cent in April, up from less than ten per cent in mid-February 2020.”
Palmqvist said demand across the region would only recover fully when governments begin to loosen restrictions.
He pointed to Australia and New Zealand, both of which are mulling creating a ‘bubble’ to allow travel between the two.
“The confidence is not there yet for a full recovery,” said Palmqvist, “but there is strong potential for the rest of the year.”
Jesper Palmqvist is based in Singapore as area director Asia Pacific for STR, leading the company in the region.
He has spent his career across both the supplier and aggregator sides in hospitality, online travel and IT.
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