Global markets report tourism gains in Q4, Q1
Global markets report tourism gains in Q4, Q1
30 MARCH 2017 7:54 AM

Our review of global market reports from the past six months reveals some commonalities, such as surges in sports tourism and tourists from China and Japan. 

GLOBAL REPORT—Hotel markets from Detroit, Michigan, to the Ukraine have capitalized in the past six months on tourism booms, while in markets like Myanmar and Abu Dhabi, tourism represents more of a challenge.

Hotel News Now has reported on 10 global markets since November 2016 as part of its ongoing Market Reports series. Some of those markets gained attention for reversing trends, or making gains despite difficult socioeconomic currents. Some were coasting on tourism highs leftover from big, one-time events, or achieved by calculated campaigns independent of the hotel industry.

By virtue of their diversity, these reports offer lessons for hoteliers in a variety of markets and segments.

One trend on the radar in many markets is a surge in tourists from China and Japan. The influx of visitors from those Asian countries has been a factor in driving hotel development in both Ukraine, where a stabilizing economy and easing of military tensions has started a recovery, and Hawaii, where tourism initiatives have spurred unseasonable hotel performance.

“The vibrant tourism industry, combined with a supportive government, has led to the completion of several new hotels (in Hawaii), such as the Ritz Carlton (Waikiki Beach) and Hilton Hawaiian Village,” said Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann. “Investors have and are renovating or refurbishing a number of older properties on all islands ….”

The Australia market also is experiencing a tourism surge, said Bob East, CEO of homegrown Mantra Group, the second-largest hotel group in Australia by room numbers.

“There’s never been a better time to be in tourism in Australia in terms of the huge visitor economy contribution to GDP and jobs growth. “This is not a ‘boom.’ It’s Australia’s new reality, given the vast emerging markets in our region,” he said.

In Sochi, Russia, hotels are still feeling the effects of a tourism boost from the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as a confluence of economic and geopolitical factors that have motivated more Russians to vacation at home, according to Tatiana Veller, national director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Hotels & Hospitality Group in Russia & CIS.

“One can even doubt that any other mountain/ski market can claim an average occupancy of nearly 60% in the summer months,” she said.

Sports tourism has played a part, too, in Detroit’s hotel development ramp-up. A new arena being built downtown for the Detroit Red Wings, the city’s NHL team, and the relocation of the Detroit Pistons NBA team back downtown has spurred interest in the market, said Michael O’Callaghan, EVP and COO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“The number of visitors has grown consistently since 2009,” O’Callaghan said. “(Our) most recent study shows visitor counts have increased from 14.176 million in 2013 to 19 million in 2016.”

Meanwhile, hotels in Greece and Myanmar are struggling in part due to their governments’ lack of support for tourism, sources told HNN.

“Myanmar has gone through one of the darkest periods any country could go through,” Larry F. Wright Jr., president and CEO of Memphis-based hotel management and development company Wright Investments said. “It has been an amazing transformation, so it needs to work intelligently, acting together with friends on its infrastructure, perhaps limiting the number of people to each area to obtain the same receipts but at higher prices.”

Markets in Zanzibar and Abu Dhabi have seen positive performance despite high costs and supply growth, sources said.

Sara Rosso, president and CEO of Planhotel Hospitality, which has three resorts in Zanzibar, said the market has benefited from improved airlift.

“That started with charter flights from Italy, but today, for example, Ethiopian Airlines flies daily from Addis Ababa, Qatar, Kenyan Airlines have service (and) recently Turkish Airlines. Fly Dubai comes four times a week, and twice a week Mango, a low-fare carrier from South Africa,” she said, adding that visits to the island are 90% leisure, and performance is seasonally stable even in the monsoon season during March and April.

Abu Dhabi also is seeing a shift toward more leisure business.

“Abu Dhabi was business-oriented, but the strategy is now on leisure and mainly on (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), although 80% of our MICE offering is centered at the Abu Dhabi Convention Center,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

New supply continues to be a worry for New York City hoteliers, but experts in that market hope that strong performance is signaling a rebound.

“Supply is a factor, but you can’t get too focused on it. There is still a lot of demand for the city, and if you’re too focused on supply, you’re ignoring that fact,” said Larry Kaminsky, EVP at Fulcrum Hospitality.

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