China, India to experience leisure travel boom

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The Independent Travel

Developing countries are set to become global hotspots for the world's leisure hotels, the CEO of a leading hotel chain has told Relaxnews.

Speaking on the second day of the Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Beijing, Carlson Hotels boss Hubert Joly described a "significant evolution" in the movement from business to leisure travel.

Joly, who heads up global hotel brands Radisson, Park Inn, Park Plaza and Country Inns and Suites by Carlson, believes that the leisure market is now larger and its share is increasing as people from developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China begin to travel domestically and internationally.

"The action in terms of new projects, construction, is really coming from emerging countries," he says.

"The nine hotels we have in operation in China, these are business destinations. But we're also starting to build resorts - we have three resorts in the pipeline versus zero currently in operation."

This week, Carlson announced plans to open 75 properties in Asia Pacific by 2013, including one in Huizhou and several in the booming resort of Sanya, on Hainan Island.

Sanya, billed as "China's Hawaii," is one of the success stories of Chinese tourism with its sandy beaches and tropical climate drawing millions of domestic and international tourists to the area every year.

It has already become a hub for international brand names such as Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Ritz-Carlton and Kempinski, with top-end chain Mandarin Oriental choosing the city for its first hotel in mainland China in 2009.

On India, where Carlson is the fastest-growing international hotel operator by number of hotels, Joly is even more positive.

"In India the sense of optimism in that country is extraordinary," he says.

"They're building the structure for the Commonwealth games [October 3-14,2010 in Delhi] and there's a lot to do in India from an infrastructure point of view but they're actually doing it."

"Most of our 28 hotels in India are in and around Delhi, but increasingly we have resorts. We are opening a resort south of Chennai, (the Radisson Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram) and another one two hours south of Mumbai (Radisson Resort Alibaug), so we definitely see a trend here."

Joly says that there is now a "complete emphasis" on the leisure market, with leisure bookings for next summer up and developing countries driving a recovery in travel that has been faster than expected.

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