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Tough Times Ahead for Asia-Pacific Hoteliers

By James Wilkinson

Do it smarter than the rest and keep your costs down. That’s the unanimous view of Hoteliers across Asia-Pacific as the region continues on a downward economic slide that is engulfing the planet.

The brilliant thing about this industry is that travel will always continue, be it for business or leisure purposes. The challenge going forward is going to be keeping costs down, maintaining rate and increasing yield – three areas which hotels in Asia-Pacific have had to be very mindful about before.

For this, our 2009 Industry Leaders Forum, I again called upon the leading chains, hotels, suppliers, hotel schools and associations to provide us with their outlook for the year ahead. For the first time since 2002, everyone is on the same page.

Hoteliers – particularly in Australia and New Zealand – know what needs to be done to promote tourism to this part of the world. Perhaps this is the time for the two countries to join together on a marketing level and boost travel down under?

Both countries are seeing significant falls in inbound tourist numbers, particularly from Japan, which at this stage looks to be only getting worse with the recent news that Japan Airlines is pulling 300 seats a day out of the Australian market.

As I flagged in my editorial last August, perhaps the two countries could start by making travel easier by installing priority immigration lanes and closing off check-in 30 minutes before a flight departs.

Trans-Tasman travel is a huge issue at present, with an air-war well and truly in place following the arrival of the Emirates A380 between Sydney and Auckland. (For more on that story, check out page 76).

Airlines and hotels are certainly stimulating travel – particularly domestically in both countries – but with no consumer confidence and a lack of international tourists, 2009 is going to be a tough year indeed.

I trust you will enjoy our Industry Leaders Forum edition of HM and I look forward to providing you with the most comprehensive coverage of the industry during 2009 and beyond.