Sanya in Hainan province now has China’s densest concentration of luxury hotels. Provided to China Daily
Both international and domestic travelers invigorate the nation’s travel market. Fan Feifei reports in Hong Kong.
As international luxury travel flourishes, demand for top hotels in China is also increasing dramatically, says Alison Gilmore, International Luxury Travel Market exhibition director.
"The rapid growth of luxury hotels in China and Asia is phenomenal," she says. "Obviously, the high-end hotels would not be investing so much money in development if they didn’t believe the growth and business was there."
It is almost a rule that hotels are the first to arrive at emerging tourist destinations. "Asia is very well-known for its fabulous service," Gilmore says. "We have great service in Europe and America, but Asia is well known for it."
But she wonders whether "they are going to be able to get enough staff so quickly".
When international tourists take inbound luxury tours, demand is good for high-end Chinese hotels, she noted.
"Whether they stay in a Chinese or an international brand hotel, they still want to feel they are in China."
Sanya now has the densest concentration of luxury tourist hotels in the country. By the end of 2012, the island resort city had 31 international brands including Starwood, Marriot, InterContinental and Hilton Worldwide. Of them 23 are rated five star.
Recreation on the beach, water sports, golf, spas and other amenities provided by luxury hotels are the main attractions, but the meeting market is also showing strong momentum.
Gilmore says the domestic market potential is also huge as incomes increase and living standards improve dramatically.
Chinese consumers now have a "huge" share of the luxury international travel market.
"Current developments in luxury travel include a lot of aspirational and inspirational travel – cruising, going to places like Antarctica and Africa. That kind of travel will see huge growth among the Chinese," she says.
Bradley Brouwer, regional manager Asia Pacific for South African Tourism, says Chinese travelers have shifted their focus from price to quality, and people are willing to enjoy and have the ability to pay for high-end tourism.
Rich Chinese tourists take about 3.2 outbound trips each year, with 38 percent saying golf is their favorite sport.
Now the fastest-growing source of outbound tourists in the world, Chinese tourists make 80 million international journeys and spend $80 billion annually, says Brouwer.
Gilmore predicts that the nation’s luxury hotel demand will "explode" over the next 10 years. She notes that in just a quick Internet search she found that "over the next three years, 96 new properties will open across the mainland China, and those are not in Shanghai and Beijing".
"They are spreading everywhere, not just in cities. Some hotels are springing up in the mountains and in some really lovely locations," she adds.
As a veteran with an extensive global background and more than 17 years experience in premium travel and lifestyles, Gilmore says "it is all about discovering the world we live in."
She has been to Antarctica, one of her best experiences. "It is like nowhere else on earth. It is breathtaking, beautiful. A lot of Chinese and Asians are now going to Antarctica," she says, adding she needed to book the exotic trip two years in advance.
SOURCE: China Daily
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