Minor International planning to add 250 hotels

Construction News
The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai is one of the luxury properties operated by Minor International in Thailand.

Minor International planning to add 250 hotels

Chairman Bill Heinecke says three-year expansion plan reflects bullish outlook for global travel

Minor International Plc, one of Asia’s largest hospitality groups, aims to add 250 properties to its global hotel portfolio over the next three years, as the revival of outbound Chinese travellers underpins the strong recovery of global tourism.

The expansion, most of which will take place after this year, comes as chairman Bill Heinecke said he expects “extraordinary” 2023 results for the Bangkok-based company that he founded in 1967, and an even better performance this year.

In the first nine months of 2023, SET-listed Minor (MINT) reported a net profit of 4.42 billion baht, an increase of 86% from 2.37 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The government’s tourism-promotion measures such as visa waivers and an extension of operating hours for entertainment venues have been crucial to growth in Minor’s home market, said Mr Heinecke.

The company ended 2023 on a strong note and is seeing bookings in Thailand in the first two months of 2024 up 20-30% from last year, he said.

Tourism spending in 2024 in Thailand is expected to be higher than in previous years and room rates and airfares would remain high as travel recovers, he told reporters on Tuesday.

Minor has a portfolio of more than 530 hotels in nearly 60 countries, with most of its business in Europe through NH Hotel Group, which it acquired in 2018. Thailand contributes about 11% of its total revenue.

“One thing that’s happened post-Covid is that we’ve seen, because of much higher costs of travel, a much higher quality of tourist coming not only to Thailand but all over the world,” Mr Heinecke said.

His optimism contrasts with a new Bloomberg Intelligence survey released on Tuesday, indicating that budgets for Chinese travellers, for both domestic and international travel, “might decrease or stay flat in 2024 as macroeconomic headwinds drive cautious spending sentiment”.

Chinese visitors will reclaim the top spot of foreign arrivals to Thailand this year, Mr Heinecke said. Increased flight capacity and a permanent bilateral visa waiver programme, expected to start in March, will accelerate the comeback of Chinese travellers, he said.

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said last week that 35 million foreign tourists are expected this year, edging toward a pre-pandemic record of 40 million, supported by campaigns to lengthen holidaymakers’ stays and year-round festivals.

Foreign tourist receipts are expected at 1.9 trillion baht in 2024, nearly two-thirds the overall revenue goal of 3 trillion baht, which also includes spending by local tourists, she said.

The government forecasts about 8 million tourists from China, which before the pandemic was the largest overseas source of travellers at nearly 11 million. By comparison, the biggest market in 2023 was Malaysia, with a tally of 4.6 million.

“Chinese travellers will be back in strength,” Mr Heinecke said. “We’ll feel the full impact of bringing more aircraft back into circulation in 2024.”

In the last quarter of 2023, Minor reported an occupancy rate of almost 70% in its Thailand business and year-on-year revenue growth of 15% per available room. The company also has more than 2,600 casual dining and quick-service restaurants around the world.

Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/general/2729052