The staycation market for the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays continues to dominate the view of hoteliers in Southeast Asia, where international arrivals have once again been disrupted by Omicron.
Acceptance of festive stay packages at Shangri-La Singapore, which offer a festive tea experience, has been good, chief executive John Rice revealed. The hotel expects to be very busy during Chinese New Year, with locals making up the bulk of the hotel’s clientele, with most being couples and families.
Malaysian hoteliers who saw advance bookings for the Chinese New Year holiday said business would peak a few days before the season due to the nature of last-minute bookings from domestic travellers.
Caemen Phoon, Sales and Marketing Manager, Zenith Putrajaya, hopes festive bookings this year will surpass 2020, when it was recently opened and had 27% occupancy.
While hoteliers described this year’s Chinese New Year performance as positive and encouraging, they acknowledged that bookings were nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.
Christina Tan, spokeswoman for G Hotel Gurney in Penang, Malaysia, said the hotel was usually fully occupied during the season, thanks to its central location. But even with the hotel’s popularity, Chinese New Year occupancy is only expected to reach 50% this year – or 70% at best.
However, if Singapore resumes full capacity on its vaccinated travel lane with Malaysia before the holidays, Tan said bookings would increase.
Rice, of Shangri-La Singapore, also noted that restrictions on international travel and capacity limits on hotel facilities have reduced the potential Chinese New Year performance.
Magdalena Martorell, general manager of the new Meliá Phuket Mai Khao in Thailand, pointed out that in the context of Covid, the commercial potential of Chinese New Year is no longer the same.
“Covid-19 has disrupted the travel habits of most countries around the world, especially for Chinese travelers. Without the ability for Chinese travelers to comfortably exit and return to their country for the foreseeable future, it is much more difficult for hotels (around the world) to view Chinese New Year as a time of higher demand as per the past,” Martorell said. TTG Asia.
She observed a “considerable reduction in demand” for the Chinese New Year period compared to December 2021 and January 2022.
“The decrease is mainly due to Thailand’s suspension of its Test & Go program and the current increase in Covid-19 cases on the back of the Omicron variant,” she explained.
Despite international travel restrictions, the hotel will have a 9:1 ratio of foreign guests to stayers during Chinese New Year, with most coming from Europe.
For now, the large receipts from festive dinners and takeaways are helping to boost Chinese New Year revenue. At the G Hotel Gurney, meeting dinner buffets are sold out, while lunch and dinner buffet slots on the first day of LNY are nearly sold out at press time. Takeout is also doing well, Tan said, with many corporate clients buying festive treats for customers and staff as a token of appreciation.
To help Singapore residents navigate ongoing dining restrictions, Shangri-La Singapore has bolstered its F&B retail and takeout selections this LNY – and the tills have been sounding, thanks to “encouraging” demand for feasts and take-out treats. – Additional reporting by S Puvaneswary