France-based hospitality group, Accor S.A. (“Accor”), has entered into an agreement to sell its approximate 5% stake in China-based hotel operator and franchisor, Huazhu Hotel Group Limited (“Huazhu”) for USD451 million. Accor will retain 5.8% stake in the Nasdaq-listed multi-brand Chinese hotel company, which last month, has entered into an agreement to acquire Frankfurt-based Deutsche Hospitality for approximately USD777 million to expand globally. Accor has released a statement that the decision was made to realize its investment in Huazhu, which has increased in value by 4.5 times since January 2016 when the deal was inked. In addition, Accor has also emphasized that the partnership with Huazhu will continue, with the chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin remaining on the board of Huazhu. Huazhu continues to own 5% stake in Accor and a seat on the board. The partnership between Accor and Huazhu has enabled the openings of 200 economy and midscale hotels in China, mainly under the ibis, Novotel and Mercure brands. An additional 250 properties in the pipeline are scheduled to open over the next three years.
New Zealand-based Giarn family has acquired 92-key Hotel Cairns from a Chinese investor for AUD11 million. The property was last transacted at AUD8 million in 2014. Located in Far North Queensland, Australia, the 4,075-square-metre hotel features three street frontages and is situated in close proximity to the Cairns Esplanade, Cairns Aquarium, the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre, Munro Martin Parklands, Reef Hotel Casino and Reef Fleet Terminal. The transaction is the first Australian acquisition for the Giarn family, which operates multiple hotels in New Zealand. Subsequent to the acquisition, Hotel Cairns will join the US-based Wyndham Hotels & Resorts group to be rebranded as Ramada By Wyndham Cairns City Centre.
Myanmar-based Myanma Tourism Bank (“MTB”) has announced its intent to channel 5% of its earnings into a tourism fund to promote Myanmar’s tourism sector. The fund will go towards supporting Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in marketing the country to drive tourism growth. Year-to-date September data has recorded more than 1.3 million foreign visitors in Myanmar, representing a 41% increase compared to the same period last year. The ministry attributed the increase to visitors from the Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea and China. This is due to the government’s “Look-East policy” in its tourism campaign and the relaxed visa requirements since October last year. MTB was one of five sector-specific banks which were granted a banking license by the Central Bank of Myanmar in 2017. It was founded by a public tourism company during U Thein Sein’s government. MMK2 billion (approximately USD1.3 million) was raised to start the bank so that it can help boost the tourism sector.
Vietnam-based Vietnam Airlines, Malaysia-based Air Asia, and Thailand-based Bangkok Airways are launching new service routes, departing from secondary citiesof Vietnam such as Nha Trang, Da Lat, Hai Phong, and Can Tho. Currently, there are total 301 flights per week between Thailand and Vietnam, an increase from 288 flights in the previous year. Vietnam-based Vietjet Air will also launch a daily service from Ho Chi Minh to Pattaya’s U-Tapao airport from 23 December 2019. According to the marketing base of Vietnamese tourists travelling abroad in 2018, approximately one million out of nine million people chose Thailand as their first tourist destination for two consecutive years since 2017. Tourism Authority of Thailand (“TAT”) believes that additional routes between Thailand and Vietnam will increase the number of first-time visitors from Vietnam.
India-based full-service airline, Tata SIA Airlines Limited, operating as Vistara, has signed a codeshare agreement with Germany-based Deutsche Lufthansa AG, operating as Lufthansa, to further strengthen their existing interline partnership. The agreement will cover 18 Vistara-operated daily flights, starting from 16 December 2019, covering ten Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Vistara is the second Indian airline, after Air India, to have a codeshare agreement with Lufthansa. Vistara, which began services in January 2015, now has codeshare agreements with six international airlines as it is looking at expanding its overseas network. It also has around 27 interline partnerships with various airlines.