Accor opens new S’pore hotel, plans to launch another in 2011

European hotel developer Accor opened a new hotel in Singapore on Thursday, and announced that it is starting work on another hotel to be launched in 2011.

Despite the weak global economy and dwindling visitor arrivals here, Accor said it still has a positive long-term outlook on the Singapore tourism sector.

The firm invested S$145 million into its latest property called Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen in the Bras Basah area. It expects the no-frills accommodation to see positive returns within the year.

Accor also plans to open a second Ibis hotel in Singapore in 2011 at Novena, but declined to reveal investment figures.

Tourist figures are expected to drop by as much as 11 per cent this year amid a prolonged global economic recession. But Accor’s Asia Pacific chairman, Michael Issenberg, said he still has a positive long-term outlook on the tourism sector.

He said: “I’m very hopeful that this economic climate is not going to last for the next 50 years. You build a hotel for the long term, not for the moment. Everywhere in the world, 2009 is going to be a challenging year.

“When is the recovery going to happen? Nobody’s quite sure. I would like to think possibly towards the end of this year or first quarter next year.”

Mr Issenberg said he is also confident that Accor’s Ibis chain of hotels will outperform the market, with more travellers opting for budget accommodation amid the global downturn.

The numbers seemed to support his view. The occupancy rate at the Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen had been hovering around 80 per cent since the hotel began making rooms available a fortnight ago.

Not all of the 538 rooms in the hotel are open to visitors yet. But once the hotel is fully opened, Mr Issenberg said he expects an overall occupancy rate of about 70 per cent this year, and 80 to 85 per cent in the next two to three years as the hotel stabilises and tourism picks up.

The latest property is Accor’s third hotel in Singapore. The firm also owns and operates the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel and Novotel Clarke Quay here.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 26 Feb 2009

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