Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Service critical to surviving in hotel business: expert

COMPETITION:Local hotels can learn from the example of luxury hotels and resorts in Southeast Asia that offer better facilities, Lai Cheng-i said

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Raising average room rates while strengthening services is the key to surviving in an increasingly competitive hotel industry, the Taiwan Tourist Hotel Association (觀光旅館商業同業公會) yesterday said in a statement.

The nation’s tourism sector has flourished over the past few years, with the number of visitors reaching a record-high 7.31 million last year, up 20.11 percent from 2011.

That helped bring in an income of NT$348.5 billion (US$11.73 billion) for the tourism industry last year, the Tourism Bureau said.

OVERSUPPLY?

However, several hotel operators have voiced concern about deteriorating profitability in the face of intensifying competition, as more players join the industry.

Taiwan Tourist Hotel Association president Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) said oversupply is not a problem, although at least 48 tourist hotels are expected to be launched over the next five years.

“The problem is not the increasing number of hotels, but a lack of commercial opportunities,” Lai, who is also the chairman of land developer Shining Group (鄉林集團) and operator of the luxury hotel Lalu (涵碧樓), said in the statement.

Taiwanese hotels have failed to attract more visitors and boost their average room rates, resulting in deteriorating profitability, he said.

TRAVEL THEMES

Compared with other major cities in Asia, Lai said the average room rate in Taiwan was much lower because of a lack of travel ideas or themes to attract visitors.

For the first seven months of the year, the average room rate for Taiwanese tourist hotels was NT$3,632 per night, compared with NT$5,620 in Hong Kong, official statistics show.

Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals in Taiwan totaled 10.73 million in the January-to-July period, compared with 39.2 million in Hong Kong, data showed.

Lai said the association is set to send a white paper — which includes 25 measures and suggestions to promote the tourism sector — to the government in the near future.

Other than trying to attract more general tourists, targeting business travelers may be another measure to help raise the standards of local hotel operators, Lai added.

Boosting services and facilities are critical to maintaining a hotel, Lai said, adding that local operators can learn from the example of luxury hotel and resort operators in Southeast Asia.

OCCUPANCY RATES

Taiwan has a total of 107 tourist hotels, which had an average occupancy rate of 70 percent last year, official data showed.

General hotels, numbering 2,700, had an average occupancy rate of only 48 percent, data showed.

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