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Resorts may be next stop for investment

THE resort market in China remains largely untapped and could become one of the next opportunities for hotel investors despite the global financial crisis, coupled with an oversupply of rooms, which has been affecting hotel investment in China.

"Investors are certainly much more cautious now but China continues to be a bright spot as most of them look at the country in the medium-to-long term," David Ling, managing director for Asia Pacific operation at HVS International, said in Shanghai yesterday where he was attending the China Hotel Investment Summit. "The country is still full of opportunities though the coming few years might be hard for some hotel operators," he said.

The resort market was just one segment untapped by investors, according to HVS, a leading hotel valuation, consulting and investment services firm.

Only a few resort destinations could be found in China at present. These included Sanya in Hainan Province, part of Yunnan Province, and the Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province, a rather small portfolio as compared to the plentiful tourism resources the country can boast.

Perfect locations for future resort development could perhaps be found in mountain areas with typical Chinese culture.

For instance, Putuo Mountain in Zhejiang Province, Emei Mountain in Sichuan Province and Jiuhua Mountain in Anhui Province, all sacred Buddhist mountains, had great potential to be developed into resort areas over the coming two to three years, HVS said.

Ski resorts were another market that hotel investors could tap into, the company said.

Peter Zhao, a management expert at Hotelsolution Consulting Co, said that while oversupply had become a big problem for hotel operators in some parts of the country, the overall industry outlook remained upbeat.

"It is a global tourism trend that more people will choose to spend their vacations in a resort in the future rather than taking tight-scheduled sightseeing trips," Zhao said. "That will definitely help create opportunities for hotel investors."


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