The world’s third largest hotel chain remains positive about the future of its business as China emerges from coronavirus lockdowns.
Marriot has 350 sites across China and reports that occupancy levels have climbed to 40%, crediting the return of business travel. Speaking at a travel conference, Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson said: “It’s not just leisure travel growing, but it is business travel. The Chinese are flying again.”
The hotel and travel industry in China were among the first to be impacted by the pandemic. In January, when China had its highest infection rates, Marriot recorded occupancy as low as 7% in its hotels. The hotel group owns over 30 brands, including Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton, and has reported that the financial impact of the pandemic has been more severe than 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash combined.
Marriot has also noted demand for hotel rooms in the US, the business’s biggest market, is growing but at a slower rate than China. In North America, Marriot had occupancy rates of 12% in April, with 16% of its hotels closed. Sorenson added: “The (U.S.) hotels that are performing strongest are those that are most dependent on drive to business.”
In the UK, no concrete date has been given for the reopening of hotels. Many are working towards the provisional date of July 4th, in line with the government’s proposed easing of lockdown measures.