AP COVID Hospitality Bulletin Asia Pacific - July 2022
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Transactions that matter.
1. Crown Resorts, Australia
- Australian gambling regulators finally gave the green light to the acquisition of Crown Resorts by Blackstone. The takeover had been discussed with the stakeholders for over a year, and it has finally been agreed to sell at USD 6.3 billion. The biggest stakeholder, Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) owned by James Packer, owns 37% of the company, and is expected to cash in USD 2.32 billion in the deal.
- Crown Resorts is one of the leading integrated resort operators in Australia, including two integrated resorts in Melbourne and Perth and one resort in Sydney. The group is currently operating seven hotels with over 3,100 rooms across three locations. Crown Sydney at Barangaroo is the latest hotel in the group, and it has recently gained the conditional approval of its casino from the NSW Independent Liquor & Gambling Authority.
2. Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa and W Maldives
- Universal Enterprises and Marriott International announced the sale of two resorts, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa and W Maldives. Both properties are expected to be operated under the current brands after the sale. The deal is the first hospitality portfolio transaction in Maldives, and the buyer is reportedly an US private equity investor paying an undisclosed sum.
- Opened in 2006, the 77-key W Maldives was the first resort under the brand, W Hotels & Resorts together with 6 F&B outlets, and the property occupies the whole Fesdu Island in North Ari Atoll, Maldives. Located on Furanafushi, the 176-key The Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa is a 15-minute speedboat ride away from the airport, and it features 7 F&B outlets and various facilities, including 3 freshwater pools, one tennis court, and one spa.
- The transaction suggests that investors are confident in the Maldives' hotel market, as tourist arrivals have returned to 2019 levels. The Ministry of Tourism announced that the number of monthly tourist arrivals in May 2022 surpassed the record set in 2019, and it welcomed close to 700,000 tourists from January to May 2022. The overall occupancy rate also reached 59% in April, still 10% less than the comparable figure in 2019.
- Opened in 2012, the 151-room O’Hotel in To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong is for sale for HKD 500 million (USD 64 million) or HKD 3.3 million (USD 420,000) per key. The hotel is only 2 minutes away from the newly opened metro station and various restaurants, and it is currently operated as a designated quarantine facility since early 2022. It is reported that this is the hotel's second sale, following its previous sale in 2020 for HKD 480 million.
- Located in Kwun Tong, the second CBD of Hong Kong, Hotel COZI Harbour View is also looking for buyers to take over. The 598-key property is valued at HKD 3.1 billion (USD 395 million) or approximately HKD 5.2 million (USD 0.66 million) per key. Acquired by Tang’s family from Henderson Land in 2017, the formal Newton Place Hotel was sold at HKD 2.3 billion at that time and rebranded under the brand Hotel COZI in 2018.
- Converted from 12 shophouses in Little India, the 68-key boutique hotel, Aqueen Heritage Hotel Little India, is put on the market for a price between SGD 62 and 66 million (USD 45-48 million) or SGD 0.91-0.97 million (USD 0.66-0.71 million) per key. The property also has 9 units of retail and F&B space on the ground floor, while limited public space and recreational amenities are available in the hotel.
News that matters.
- Since reopening its border in March, Vietnam has seen an increase in foreign travelers returning since the pandemic of COVID-19. According to the General Statistics Office (GSO) of Vietnam, Vietnam welcomed over 600,000 foreign travelers in the first two quarters of 2022, and 237,000 in June alone. Statistics also suggest that the revenue from accommodation and catering services recorded a 20.9% year-on-year growth in the first six months and an 80% increase in June 2022 over 2021. During the reporting period, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the most popular destinations among foreign travelers.
- Vietnam also seeks more sustainable and responsible tourism development like its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia in the post-COVID era. Besides the cultural and historical heritage across the country, Vietnam has 33 national parks, 57 nature reserves, 13 habitat conservation areas, 53 landscape protection zones, and 8 UNESCO sites. Despite the abundant resources, Vietnam is considered slow in sustainable tourism development compared with other economies in the world, but the government is working on different initiatives, including designated sustainable travel guides and related workshops.
- As one of the first countries to waive quarantine requirements for inbound travelers, the Philippines sees an increase in foreign visitors since February. According to the local news, the number of foreign visitors had surpassed 500,000 in late May, and the major source markets during the reporting period included the USA (20%), South Korea (5.5%), and Canada (4.7%). Before the reopening, the Department of Tourism (DOT) observed strong demand for domestic tourism and the total domestic trips reached over 37.2 million in 2021, a 38% year-on-year growth.
- The return of foreign travelers is expected to boost the tourism industry in the country; the share of tourism to GDP dropped from 12.8% in 2019 to 5.2% in 2021, and the industry has shown confidence in the future of tourism in the Philippines. The Hann Group, which opened the rebranded Hann Resort in Clark Freeport Zone in 2021, announced its expansion plan of casinos, hotels, and golf courses in the coming 5 years with an additional $1 billion investment. On the other hand, master plans for two Cebu islands, Bantayan and Camotes, are ready for implementation and are expected to help ensure long-term tourism development in order to avoid another Boracay Island fiasco.
- Starting from mid-June, Macau started to tighten the social distancing policy due to the surging COVID-19 cases in the city. City-wide mass testing aside, some casinos and related entertainment venues are temporarily closed. While the daily number of recorded cases is relatively small compared to other countries and regions, Macau remains committed to its zero-COVID policy and only waives the quarantine of travelers from low-risk regions in China. With the shortened quarantine of inbound travelers in mainland China (from 14–21 days to 10 days), Macau might be able to see more Chinese travelers return to the attractions and casinos after the situation alleviates.
- The government has announced that the existing licenses of six casino operators are extended to the end of the year, and the new gaming licenses are expected to be issued by the end of this year. However, the casinos face challenges after the tighter regulations imposed on VIP segments and big spenders from mainland China are unable to return to the gaming tables. As a result, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau shows a great year-on-year decline starting this March. In June, the GGR only reached MOP 2,477 million, a 62% decrease over 2021 and the lowest monthly GGR in the past 20 months.
Reopening Status in Asia Pacific
More and more countries and regions are embracing the new normal of international travel in the region, and more countries are removing the mandatory testing results required by all inbound travelers. At the same time, travelers to the greater China are still required to undergo quarantine upon arrival, but mainland China announced that the quarantine has been shortened from 14 to 21 days to 7+3 days in response to alleviated situation across the country.