MARRIOTT International, a global hotel operator, is banking on the growth potential in the Asia Pacific region to meet aggressive business targets, said Rajeev Menon, the company’s chief operating officer for Asia Pacific excluding China.
"Asia Pacific continues to present immense growth for Marriott International. A few weeks ago, we announced our 2020 vision, aiming for 1,000 properties in operation by the end of 2020. This is set to increase our current operating portfolio by nearly 40 per cent, with an estimated 40 per cent more job opportunities added in the region," he said.
Menon said that Marriott International currently operates over 710 properties in 23 countries and territories, with 23 of the 30 global brands in Asia Pacific. This year, we will add close to 100 new hotels or nearly 20,000 rooms when several brands debut in Australia, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Nepal and India
"Travel and tourism continue to grow in the region. Global traffic will double in the next 20 years and Asia-Pacific is set to be the biggest growth engine with almost four billion passenger journeys expected from the region by 2037, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The middle class is growing globally and hundreds of millions of people want to start their first trip," he said.
Menon said that Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in Asia Pacific and will continue to remain so. International arrivals have been increasing and 2018 saw a record number of 38.27 million international arrivals, according to the Tourism Ministry of Thailand.
In Thailand, Marriott International has a presence of 44 hotels and resorts with more than 12,000 rooms, while more than 20 new properties have been planned.
"We target to open five new properties in Thailand in 2020 in Pattaya, Khao Lak, Phuket and Bangkok. We are positive about Thailand tourism going forward, and this is underscored with our growth vision where our footprint is set to increase by 50 per cent," he said.
"Thailand is viewed by Marriott International as one of the model tourism operators. The government has worked hard to establish tourism and the associated infrastructure.
“Thailand has an excellent balance between the business sector and the leisure component of our industry," said Menon.
"With our increasing footprint in Thailand, we see the opportunity to continue growing and developing local talent to look after our guests. Our team has been working with hotel schools and other partners to identify local talent to ensure that we will have the best leaders for the future. Today, some of our general managers are |Thais, both male and female, " |he added.
Menon said that China continues to be the strongest growth driver for Marriott International in Asia Pacific, it is Marriott International’s top source market in Asia Pacific and growing across the world.
"With the growing number of Chinese travellers, we see this as an opportunity and are focused on the needs and preferences of the Chinese consumer; and our joint venture with Alibaba underscores this vision. For example, in April 2018, we rolled out the Post Post Pay (PPP) functionality across more than 1,000 Marriott International hotels globally on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform. PPP allows qualified users to travel first and pay after their stay. Several hotels in Thailand now offer this service to cater to the way Chinese travellers book, stay and pay," he said.
Menon said that whilst North America remains Marriott International’s biggest market, Asia Pacific is a big driver of growth and represents a tremendous opportunity.
China continues to be the strongest growth driver for Marriott International in Asia Pacific, with more than 300 hotels in the pipeline. This accounts for more than 50 per cent of the company’s planned properties in Asia Pacific.
"For any country around the world, including Thailand, we welcome governments that promote the travel and tourism industry as a whole. As a hospitality company, we are in the business of providing quality accommodation and experiences, and we believe that travel enriches lives and expands horizons.” said Menon.