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Hoteliers still intend to expand in China

Horeca

Three hotel giants, including InterContinental Hotels Group, said their plans to expand in China would continue despite the damage done by the disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

China has confirmed 190 deaths resulting from SARS and 4,000 cases of infection, which have scared off tourists and left 2 out of 3 hotel rooms empty. The virus has forced authorities to close schools, hospitals and the stock markets. The World Health Organization warned against travel to the country.

And that has taken a toll on tourism. Recently, the Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai said it had 32% occupancy last month compared with the usual 82% for April. Still, Intercontinental, Marriott International Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced that they were expanding despite SARS, betting that China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization and the 2008 Olympic Games will boost arrivals. ‘The underlying situation of China being a strong-growth economy isn’t changing; people will go back at some point’, said Pieter van Putten, chief executive of Morley Fund Management Singapore, which holds $3 billion in Asia.

China has confirmed 190 deaths resulting from SARS and 4,000 cases of infection, which have scared off tourists and left 2 out of 3 hotel rooms empty. The virus has forced authorities to close schools, hospitals and the stock markets. The World Health Organization warned against travel to the country.

And that has taken a toll on tourism. Recently, the Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai said it had 32% occupancy last month compared with the usual 82% for April. Still, Intercontinental, Marriott International Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced that they were expanding despite SARS, betting that China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization and the 2008 Olympic Games will boost arrivals. ‘The underlying situation of China being a strong-growth economy isn’t changing; people will go back at some point’, said Pieter van Putten, chief executive of Morley Fund Management Singapore, which holds $3 billion in Asia.

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