The past two years have been a tumultuous and uncertain period for the
world of hospitality across the globe, but Garth Simmons, CEO of Accor
Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, now sees light at the end of the
tunnel for the recovery of the Asia Pacific hotel sector as borders
reopen across the region.
It’s a good sign that The Long Bar (at Raffles Hotel Singapore) is occupied and busy with tourists again.
a good sign that the Long Bar is occupied and busy with tourists
again,” Simmons noted, speaking to Travel Weekly Asia at Raffles Hotel
Singapore in the second week of April, merely days after Singapore
opened its borders on 1 April. “You can imagine in another month’s time
we’re going to see more easing in restrictions.”
spots have already appeared in the hospitality sector for Southeast
Asia, a region where Simmons has been charged to head, together with
Japan and South Korea since October 2020. “What we’ve seen in Singapore
is a short lead time – a couple of days, or within a week. And that’s
actually the pattern we’re seeing across the region as well.”
Simmons is confident that Southeast Asia is poised for a stronger
comeback is the coming months, even if recovery in this part of the
world still lags other major markets like Europe or the Middle East. In
Southeast Asia, Japan & South Korea, the hospitality group has to
date signed 6,900 rooms (29 hotels) across the region’s 12 countries, as
well as 1,800 keys within four branded residences.
Southeast Asia's first Tribe hotel will open later this year the Phnom Penh Post Office Square with 260 rooms.
Turning on the inclusive charm
Southeast Asia’s major tourism markets and population centres are where Accor is lining up the bulk of its development plans.
A focus is Vietnam, where Accor will introduce the all-inclusive
luxury resort Rixos in Southeast Asia, following the strong performance
of the brand in Turkey. The French hospitality giant acquired a 50%
stake in the Turkish hotel brand in 2017.
But can the all-inclusive concept work for the Asian market? Simmons
believes that the Asian market is ripe for a model that has already
proven successful in markets like Turkey’s Antalya and the Maldives.
“It's not just about having a hotel. It's actually about creating the
destination – you've got to have water parks, a big property, big land
in great locations,” Simmons stated. “I liken it to a cruise on land.”
However, the location of the Rixos project in Vietnam has yet to be
revealed although Simmons added that the all-inclusive brand will be
rolled out in other regional markets like Phuket.
Southeast Asia’s other key market, Indonesia, is primed for more
buzz. Besides partnering with Traveloka earlier this year to expand its
global distribution, the last two years also saw the opening of the
279-room Pullman Bandung Grand Central alongside the 240-room ibis
Styles Bandung Grand Central in West Java and an international
convention centre for up to 2,000 pax, plus the launch of Raffles Bali
with 31 private pool villas and cave dining experiences in Jimbaran Bay.
well, Accor will bring the new lifestyle brand, Tribe, to Bali and
Phnom Penh later this year, while Pullman Singapore Orchard will open in
September as part of a mixed-use development after refurbishment.
Accor launched its first multi-branded hotel complex in Indonesia's Bandung with Pullman & ibis Styles Bandung Grand Central.
Plugging the gaps in SE Asia
Major business hubs in Southeast Asia also have to step up their
messaging that they have reopened for business and tourism. “Singapore
has to do a lot more in the MICE space because what we have had is the
message out that Singapore’s closed for the big conventions and big MICE
The return of major MICE events will be critical to the recovery of
hospitality sector, but the path to stabilising markets remains
compounded by the region’s perennial challenge of manpower shortage.
The absence of Chinese tourists for two years is sorely missed in
Southeast Asia, with no clear sign that this market is coming back
anytime soon. But Simmons feels the events of 2020-2021, including the
pandemic and geopolitics, will ultimately lead to Southeast Asia being a
top choice when the Chinese doors open for international travel.
Chinese are not fans of America or Australia, but they love Asia. It’s
not that they’re less excited about visiting the US or Europe, but their
choice is going to be where their visa allows them to go to, so I think
it’s going to be Asia,” he noted.
Overall, Simmons expects optimism to build up in Southeast Asia as
borders reopen. “I think 2022 is going to be a good year only because
we've certainly out of the bottom and we're on the way up. And 2023
could be very, very positive.”