DALIAN - Singapore hotel and serviced-apartment chain Frasers Hospitality is expanding its footprint in smaller cities in China, driven by the presence of more international companies as well as growing demand from the domestic travellers.
The hospitality arm of real estate company Frasers Property Group officially opened its 16th Fraser Suite serviced apartment in Dalian, a port city in north-eastern Liaoning province on Friday (May 18), as part of plans to double its properties under this brand across China.
"No one can ignore China, it is such a growing nation," said Frasers Hospitality chief executive Choe Peng Sum.
The addition of the 259-unit development in Dalian comes after the company opened four properties in Hunan's provincial capital Changsha, the northern port city Tianjin and southern Shenzhen last year.
In the next few years, it will add another 14 serviced apartments, which include expansions to new cities such as Nanchang in southeastern Jiangxi and Haikou in southern Hainan.
"With a lot of foreign direct investments (coming into China), it is fuelling that growth," said Mr Choe, adding that the huge domestic market is another key driver of its business in the country.
Last year, China's domestic tourism industry grew 15.9 per cent to reach 4.57 trillion yuan (S$963billion) with 5 billion trips made within the country, according to figures from the China National Tourism Administration.
Chinese travellers are also the world's largest source of outbound tourists, making 130.5 million trips last year, up 7 per cent from the year before.
Mr Choe noted that while China accounts for about a quarter of the company's global portfolio, these outbound Chinese tourists also contributed to "tremendous growth" outside of China.
"As Chinese travellers become familiar with our product through their domestic travels, they are also choosing us for their outbound trips. Globally, we have seen a 10 per cent growth in the number of room nights booked by Chinese travellers from 2016 to 2017," said Mr Choe.
"In our Paris properties, at least 20 per cent of our customers are Chinese tourists, spending 500 euros a day. They are now very willing to spend top dollar on quality experience. It's not just about shopping any more."
While steady expansion of the Fraser Suite brand is keeping Mr Choe busy, he is also targeting a slice of the fast-growing millennial traveller market in China.
The company started its first serviced residence under the Capri brand in Shenzhen last year, specially catering to young with shared spaces where they can socialise with other travellers.
"We want to grow the Capri brand very quickly here," said Mr Choe. "While we will grow the Fraser Suite properties from 16 to 30, we will add about 15 (Capri properties) in the next few years."