The area around Taipei Railway Station has seen a surge of boutique and standard hotels in recent years, driven by fast-growing demand for affordable accommodation in convenient locations, property broker Savills Taiwan Ltd (第一太平戴維斯) said in a report yesterday.
Ten standard hotels are operating on Chongqing S Road alone — with renovations on another four under way — as what was once known as Bookstore Street is turning into a hotel cluster due to its proximity to the train station amid a tourism boom.
“Easy access to public transportation is important for tourists during visits to Taiwan and hotel operators are taking advantage of the convenience provided the train station,” Savills senior manager Erin Ting (丁玟甄) said by telephone.
The railway station allows tourists quick transits to destinations nationwide by coach, Taipei’s MRT rail system, railway and high-speed train, Ting said.
In addition, the construction of the MRT line linking the train station to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is slated to be completed by the year of this year, enabling foreign tourists to reach downtown Taipei within an hour of their planes landing, Ting said.
Inbound tourists totaled 9.91 million last year, with tourists from China, Japan and South Korea all increasing by double-digit percentages, according to government data.
Chinese tourists accounted for 30 percent of the visits at 3.99 million, with independent travelers from China reaching 1.18 million, almost double from a year earlier, data showed.
Investors are taking note of the trends and are transforming old office and retail space, as well as bookstores, into relatively affordable hotel rooms, Ting said.
In addition, the availability of old office buildings lends support to the hotel cluster’s formation.
The operator of Papago International Resort Hotel (日暉) has won a lease to turn state-run Taiwan Cooperative Financial Holding Co’s (合庫金控) headquarters on Xiangyang Road (襄陽) into a boutique hotel. Taiwan Cooperative is to move into a new office building on Bade Road.
Hua Nan Financial Holding Co (華南金控) is looking for tenants to build a hotel at its old headquarters on Chongqing S Road.
While hotel rooms generate less rent than office space, they produce long-term, stable rental income without the burden of high upkeep, Ting said.
Tourists from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau increased by 2.63 million last year, suggesting demand for 3,600 hotel rooms a day, assuming that two guests share one room for three nights, Ting said.
The demand is to climb higher this year and beyond if the government raises the limit on independent tourists from China, she said. Given the saturation, it should be raised from 4,000 a day to 5,000, she added.
Turning old buildings into hotels is more cost-efficient for investors, as renovation work requires only nine or 10 months, while it might take two or three years to build a new hotel.
The tourism boom, cost-efficiency and convenience has driven Green World Hotels (洛碁商旅) and Chainin Hotel (謙商旅) to gain a foothold near the train station.
“Other hoteliers will follow as the tourism boom pans out,” Ting said.
Standard hotels charge between NT$2,000 and NT$4,000 a night, much less expensive than room rates of between NT$6,000 and NT$8,000 at five-star hotels, she said.
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