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Tourists surging to Singapore help push hotel deals to record

Tourists take photos with the Merlion on a hazy day in Singapore September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim
Tourists take photos with the Merlion on a hazy day in Singapore September 13, 2019. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Feline Lim)

By Faris Mokhtar

(Bloomberg) -- Hotel deals in Singapore are set for 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 S$5.7 billion ($4.2 billion) as of Nov. 30, according to preliminary figures from Colliers International Group Inc., about five times 2018 and the most in at least a decade.

A record 5 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.

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 F1 Singapore Grand Prix also helped, he said.

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

The biggest deal this year was the purchase of Mandarin Orchard for S$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 S$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 Christine Li, head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia at Cushman & Wakefield Plc.

With some large bi-annual events and exhibitions making a return and new ones surfacing, 2020 is expected to be another bumper year, Li said.

A slew of new attractions should also help solidify Singapore’s position as a Southeast 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.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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