Tourists surging to Singapore help push hotel deals to record

A record five million visitors came to the island in the third quarter, led by tourists from Greater China. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Hotel deals in Singapore are set to hit a record amid a surge in tourist arrivals, buoyed by people wanting to avoid the protests in Hong Kong.

Hospitality transaction volumes were an unprecedented $5.7 billion as of Nov 30, according to preliminary figures from Colliers International, about five times 2018 and the most in at least a decade.

A record five million visitors came to the island in the third quarter, led by tourists from Greater China, Singapore Tourism Board data show. That brought arrivals so far this year to 15.8 million.

Mr Govinda Singh, executive director of valuation and consultancy services at Colliers, said that Singapore "no doubt" benefited from the protests that have rocked Hong Kong for the past six months.

The opening of a vast new entertainment complex Jewel Changi Airport - which boasts the world's tallest indoor waterfall - as well as the re-opening of the iconic Raffles Hotel and additional business generated by the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix also helped, he said.

A few major Singapore real estate investment trust mergers boosted transactions too, according to Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers.

The biggest deal this year was the purchase of Mandarin Orchard for $1.2 billion following the merger of OUE Commercial Reit and OUE Hospitality Trust. The group also bought the Crowne Plaza hotel at Changi Airport for $486 million, in what was 2019's third-biggest deal.

Barring an economic crisis, the near- to mid-term outlook for the hospitality market is favorable, said Ms Christine Li, head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia at Cushman and Wakefield.

With some large biannual events and exhibitions making a return and new ones surfacing, 2020 is expected to be another bumper year, she said.

A slew of new attractions should also help solidify Singapore's position as a South-east Asia tourism hub.

Resorts World Sentosa plans to add Minion Park and Super Nintendo World to Universal Studios Singapore, while the Mandai wildlife project should boost eco-tourism when it opens in 2023.

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