By Akash Dattaand Dipti Mohan
As the Indian hospitality sector embarks on the path to recovery, hoteliers need to test waters in the branded residences segment, which is still a niche concept in India.
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Australia-based luxury lodge operator, Baillie Lodges (“Ballie”), has announced their acquisition of 18-key Huka Lodge, an award-winning accommodation on the outskirts of Taupo, in New Zealand, for an undisclosed sum. As part of its international expansion plan, this acquisition would be Baillie’s second international property; following the acquisition of Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge in late 2020. Baillie’s Founder, James Baillie, mentioned that the global reputation and fine heritage of Huka Lodge would be a good fit to the company’s portfolio, and added that the company wishes to continue its global expansion across Australia, New Zealand, and beyond. In 2019, Baillie was acquired by an affiliate of US-based investment firm, KSL Capital Partners. Baillie’s portfolio includes numerous other luxury lodges, including Longitude 131° at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island and tropical North Queensland luxury bolt-hole Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree. The company’s flagship property, Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island, is set to undergo its reconstruction, which was destroyed in the early 2020 bushfires.
Tourism Australia has recently launched its AUD5 million week-long advertising campaign running from 31 January to 6 February 2021, in an attempt to encourage Australians to plan and book domestic trips within the country. Coined as “Holiday Here This Year”, this advertising campaign would run across print, online, billboards and television advertisement breaks and is narrated by Australian actor, Hamish Blake. The primary purpose of the campaign aims to capitalise on the pent-up demand by providing locals with the content and inspiration required to turn their desire for holidays into actual bookings. Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan mentioned that the domestic tourism industry is worth AUD100 billion and hosts over 621,000 jobs. He hopes this campaign would excite the locals about holidaying in Australia, which would support the businesses and jobs of their fellow Australians. This campaign follows the Australian government’s announcement of the 2020 budget, where AUD230 million has been allocated to the Tourism Australia, to focus on boosting its domestic travel market.
Contracts for the NZD50 million regional events fund were signed and allocated to nine groups of regional tourism organisations. This funding is part of the New Zealand Government’s NZD400 million recovery fund to help businesses in the tourism sector reorient themselves to the domestic and Australian markets. Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash, confirmed that the first investment plan of NZD3.75 million approved in December was given to four regional tourism collaborating as the Thermal Explorer Highway group. The Southern Lakes group also received NZD8.5 million in funding. Northland and Auckland received the most funding with NZD19 million to host major events and business gatherings. Other regions such as Nelson and Marlborough with NZD1.5 million were working together to offer multi-day events while Wellington and Wairarapa, with NZD3.5 million were also looking into attracting more domestic tourists. Based on Tourism New Zealand’s research, regional events such as festivals, concerts, exhibitions, food and beverage experiences and sporting events were major pull factors for Kiwis to go on domestic holidays. Therefore, Nash hoped that event funds would help capture the NZD9 billion that Kiwis spend overseas in previous years as events drive visitors and bring about demand across the accommodation, hospitality, and retail sectors.
Presently, three out of seven upgrading projects of Hua Hin Airport have been completed. On 6 February 2021, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam revealed the plan to further upgrade Hua Hin airport in 2023 to accommodate larger aircraft serving long haul flights of between 10 and 12 hours. The airport’s runway will be further expanded from 2,100 metres to 3,000 metres. Mr Thaworn mentioned that further upgrades are necessary as the demand for flights to Hua Hin significantly increased right before the Covid-19 disruption. Additionally, he believed that it will help boost economic recovery from tourism arrivals after the domestic demand returns to normal next year and the international market in 2023. Currently, Hua Hin airport is undergoing a THB250 million renovation that commenced last year. The renovation will widen Hua Hin airport’s runway from 35 to 45 metres to accommodate larger aircrafts such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. It is expected that the airport will be able to handle up to five of such aircraft at any one time once the improvements are completed. In addition, a new taxiway and passenger terminal are also amidst construction and it will allow the airport to accommodate three times its current capacity. When completed, the airport will be able to handle 900 passengers an hour and 2.6 million passengers annually, an increase from the current capacity of 300 passengers an hour and 860,000 passengers annually.