Marriot reopens all hotels in China as travel rebounds

A branch of Marriot International inc. An American multinational hospitality company
Emeh Joy

The world's third-largest hotel chain, Marriot has opened all of its hotels in China as the group says it has noted recovery in business travel.

Marriot which recently released a statement about its business in China said the occupancy rates at its Chinese hotels had been as low as 7% in late January when China was experiencing the peak of its pandemic cases. It reported last week that the financial impact of the pandemic has been more severe for the hotel even than the 2008 and 9/11 financial crisis combined.

The Chief Executive of Marriot, Arne Sorenson, told a travel conference, "It's not just leisure travel growing, but it is business travel. Chinese are flying again". He, however, warned that it might take long for occupancy to recover to the pre-coronavirus levels.

Marriot said the demand for hotel rooms is also recovering in the US; however, it is only currently about half the level of its China properties at 20 per cent.

The hotel group which has grown to own up to 30 brands which include Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton has reduced working weeks for its employees until early October and also extended leave of absence for its employees.

It said in a statement, "Given the company's expectation that prior levels of business will not return until beyond 2021, the company anticipates a significant number of above-property position eliminations later this year".

The hotel and travel industry was among the first industry to be hit in China as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and it seems to be the slowest to recover as different businesses are reopening across the country.

Rival Hilton reopened all its 255 hotels in China two weeks ago while introducing a CleanStay initiative to protect its guests and employees. Shanghai Disneyland is another one that opened up last month but not without putting some safety measures in place, such as strict social distancing rules and a limited number of visitors per day.

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