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.
Bright 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
Simmons is confident that Southeast Asia is poised for a stronger
comeback in the coming months, even if recovery in this part of the
world still lags in 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.
Plugging the gaps in Southeast Asia
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 business.”
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.
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.
“The 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.
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.
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.
Another 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. Rixos properties
feature meetings and large-scale events facilities supported by seamless
As 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.
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.”