By NISHA RAMCHANDANI
Launch of IRs, global recovery help fuel tourism demand in 2010
(SINGAPORE) After booking a stellar year in 2010, hoteliers are upbeat that the growth streak will continue next year, although the additional supply from new hotels coming onstream is expected to temper the pace of growth.
The launch of the two integrated resorts (IRs), Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), as well as the recovery in the global markets have helped fuel tourism demand this year, industry players said.
‘The improvement in the financial performance of Singapore hotels in 2010 has been exceptional, with room revenue typically up by over 25 per cent compared with the previous year,’ said Robert McIntosh, executive director of CBRE Hotels (Asia Pacific).
‘The outlook for hotel revenues in 2011 is positive, although the growth rate is likely to be less than in 2010, partly due to the increased supply,’ he said.
In 2011, CBRE Hotels projects occupancy could come in at 81-85 per cent for the year, while the average daily room rate could chalk up gains of 10-15 per cent year on year.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) also expects the tourism sector to deliver a healthy performance next year. ‘This can be attributed to the ongoing strong performance of our regional economies and our draw as a vibrant destination,’ said STB’s director of communications Paul Tan.
According to travel agency Chan Brothers, travel has shot up by 30 per cent this year, and forward bookings – especially for the Chinese New Year period – have already started to stream in for as far out as June next year.
Industry sources place Singapore’s average hotel occupancy for 2010 at 85 per cent for the nine months spanning January-September, while room rates for the same period rose 11 per cent from the previous year to around $211, and revenue per available room (RevPar) gained 24 per cent to about $181. The figures show that the hotel sector has clawed back some lost ground after the financial crisis which dragged down both occupancy and room rates in 2009.
And with healthy numbers to round off the year-end holiday season, many hotels are ending the year on an upbeat note.
RWS, which has four of six hotels operational at the moment, is seeing weekend occupancies hitting as high as 95 per cent and averaging 70 per cent for weekdays this month.
‘With more rides coming up within Universal Studios Singapore for 2011 as well as brand new attractions such as the Maritime Xperiential Museum, we can safely say that the demand for our hotels will continue to grow at a good pace,’ said Roger Lienhard, RWS’s senior vice-president of F&B and rooms. RWS’s remaining two hotels will open progressively over the next two years, and boost its room count from the current 1,350 rooms to 1,800 rooms when all six hotels are up and running.
Hotels within the city area are also doing well. The Rendezvous Hotel achieved an average occupancy of close to 90 per cent this year, while average room rates and RevPar grew by 10-15 per cent from 2009 levels. ‘We expect to continue to do well but we will not see as big an increase compared to this year,’ said Kellvin Ong, general manager of the Rendezvous Hotel, adding that the 2011 pipeline lacks marquee events such as the Youth Olympic Games. ‘This will impact arrivals and, hence, hotel occupancy. However, we expect the IRs to continue to attract more Asian visitors, especially over weekends. This will help push occupancy for city hotels.’
Over at the Royal Plaza on Scotts (RPS), room rates have risen nearly 11 per cent this year to $285, while occupancy climbed 12 percentage points year on year to 87 per cent. This boosted RevPar for 2010 by 21 per cent to $236. RPS general manager Patrick Fiat – who expects the two IRs to continue to boost tourism demand next year – sees RPS’s room rates chalking up additional growth in 2011.
‘Demand will be fuelled by regional business growth in countries in South-east Asia such as China and India, and the rebound in corporate travel and meetings,’ said Mr Fiat. ‘Tourist arrivals are set to enjoy good growth, however, it will have lesser impact on the hotel’s occupancy as we see added room inventory in the market this year and next.’
Similarly, the Pan Pacific also expects the upward trend to continue, after seeing occupancy power ahead by 11 percentage points to 86 per cent this year, up from 75 per cent last year. ‘We do foresee better occupancy for Pan Pacific,’ said a hotel spokesman. ‘We have received many group booking enquiries and the booking pace for January 2011 is higher (year on year).’
Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore is counting on new projects in the pipeline to draw in visitors. ‘New developments such as Gardens by the Bay, the International Cruise Terminal (ICT) and Marina Bay Financial Centre will add depth to Singapore’s tourism offerings and enhance Singapore’s stature as a vibrant city. They will draw in international visitors,’ said Andreas Kohn, director of sales and marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.