Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - Page 10 News List

HK unrest boosts Singapore hotels

HEALTH FORUM:Next month’s Global Wellness Summit is moving to the city-state from Hong Kong ‘to ensure travel is as seamless as possible,’ a spokeswoman said

Reuters, SINGAPORE

A boat sails by the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore on July 3.

Photo: Reuters

Singaporean hotel occupancy rates have climbed to their highest level in more than a decade as travelers and business events switch from Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests have slashed tourist numbers and negatively affected business sentiment.

Data released on Monday by the Singapore Tourism Board showed that average occupancy rates in the city-state’s hotels hit 93.8 percent in July, the highest level in records going back to 2005 and up from 92.5 percent last year.

The data also showed the highest revenue per room in almost four years, a trend analysts and hoteliers said was helped by conferences switching from rival business hub Hong Kong as protests that started in mid-June turned increasingly violent.

“Singapore may benefit twice as much from the Hong Kong fallout as both these destinations share similar traits,” Singapore-based DBS Bank (星展銀行) analyst Derek Tan said, citing businesses switching conference venues from Hong Kong.

The Global Wellness Summit, a gathering of about 600 health and beauty industry delegates scheduled for the middle of next month is moving to Singapore from Hong Kong. The event’s spokeswoman said this was “to ensure travel is as seamless as possible.”

Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford general manager Marcus Hanna said he had a 60-strong business group last month switch from Hong Kong for a five-night stay.

Hanna said his hotels, which offer conference and meeting facilities, have received a number of inquiries from companies looking to move events out of Hong Kong amid the unrest.

Jefferies analyst Krishna Guha said events in Hong Kong would have been a factor in lifting Singapore’s hospitality sector.

Revenue per available room, a key performance metric for the hotel industry, rose to S$203.70 (US$146.25) in July, its highest level since October 2015, and from S$200.20 in July last year.

He said the unrest would have weighed on tourists’ summer travel plans, while other factors included tightening hotel supply in Singapore during its peak season for North Asian visitors and a weaker Singapore dollar.

In Hong Kong, the territory’s airport has suffered repeated disruptions due to demonstrations, and hotel operators have reported lower occupancy rates and booking cancelations.

Many nations such as Singapore have advised their citizens to defer non-essential travel to the former British colony.

“The outlook remains bleak for September and the rest of the year for destination Hong Kong,” said Alicia Seah of travel agency Dynasty Travel, adding that inquiries and bookings have come to a “standstill” since last month’s airport shutdown. “There are now spillover effects ... with both leisure and business travelers opting to travel to Singapore instead of Hong Kong.”

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