Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Lih Pao bucks hotel trend

BRAVE ACCOMMODATION Not too many companies look kindly on investment in construction of hotels, but Lih Pao is confident tourist numbers are about to jump

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cashing in on a growing public awareness of leisure activities, Lih Pao Construction Co (麗寶建設) is aiming at developing the nation's largest hotel chain in five years through operating 12 hotels around the country.

The chain will be run under the name Fullon Hotels and Resorts (福容大飯店).

Taipei-headquartered Lih Pao yesterday inaugurated its first Fullon-branded hotel in Sansia Township (三峽), Taipei County.

With 288 rooms, including 90 larger family rooms, the hotel claims to be the largest in Taipei County, which has a population of 3.76 million.

"The hotel, located in Sansia but also very close to Yingge Township (鶯歌), is expected to serve the large number of tourists visiting the famed Sansia Old Street, Sansia Tsushih Temple (三峽祖師廟), the Li Mei-shu Memorial Gallery (李梅樹紀念館) and the Yingge Ceramics Museum," company chairman Wu Pao-tien (吳寶田) said during the opening ceremony.

Expressing optimism at the prospects for the nation's tourism industry and the government's plan to double inbound tourists to 5 million by next year, Wu said he was planning to quickly expand his hotel empire to surpass the Howard Hotel, which has seven locations nationwide.

Later this year, Fullon will add three hotels in Taoyuan, Tamsui (淡水) and Taipei City, followed by Linkou (林口) in Taipei County next year.

Others under construction are in the New Banciao (板橋) Special Zone, the Yamay Resort (月眉育樂世界) in Taichung County, Puli Township (埔里) in Nantou County, Changhua County, Hualien County and Kenting (墾丁) in Pingtung County.

Lih Pao has operated a business hotel in Jhongli (中壢), Taoyuan County, since 2002, which has been renamed to fit the new corporate logo, said chief executive director Miki Paung (龐妤家), who has been in the hotel industry for more than two decades.

According to Tourism Bureau statistics released in April, Taiwan has 90 international and standard tourist hotels, which house 21,274 rooms.

Their average occupancy rate for the first three months of the year stood at 64.2 percent.

Asked why the company was bucking the trend and pumping capital into the hotel industry even as some counterparts complain of an excess number of hotels, Paung said that the hotels' different locations -- with some in Taipei County -- would help fill a niche in the market targeting local tourists and foreign businesspeople.

Lih Pao, one of the top three construction firms in northern Taiwan, acquired the struggling Yamay Resort from Ever Fortune Industrial Co (長億實業) for NT$2.07 billion (US$62.7 million) in a public auction late last year.

Wu hopes to complete Yamay Resort's restructuring plan by the end of this year.

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