by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 09, 2018
Hilton made Asia Pacific the center of its massive expansion strategy in 2017, opening more than 40 hotels, including its 100th hotel in China and its 200th hotel in the region. In addition, the company planted its first Curio Collection flag in the area, with the June 2017 opening of the 267-room Sanya Yazhou Bay Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton in China. Hilton followed that up with the opening of the 182-room West Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton in Sydney, Australia's first for the brand.
 
"It was an amazing year of further growth for Hilton in Asia Pacific in 2017, coupled with recognition of our position as a market-leading employer and the most innovative in our industry," said Alan Watts, Hilton's newly appointed executive vice president and president, Asia Pacific, in a statement summing up the company's growth. The travel/tourism sector, he said, "continues its rise to become a leading employer and contributor to Asia's economy, and we are at the forefront of a trend that will see us create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region in future years."
 
With 14 brands and more than 5,000 properties around the globe, Hilton has stepped up its growth in recent years and rolled out a number of new initiatives on the international front, such as its "Meet With Purpose" program at its hotels in Asia Pacific, to offer clients a mindful, sustainable and well-balanced meeting experience.
 
Closer to home, the company launched the Hilton Passport Project, in which a passport-concierge booth manned by representatives from the State Department will be set up at different Hilton hotels across the U.S. every few weeks. The first one was staffed at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown last November. Hilton said the initiative aims to help make its customers compliant with the Real ID Act. That measure, which went into effect Jan. 22 of this year, requires travelers to present identification other than a driver's license, even when traveling domestically, if their driver's license does not meet Real ID standards. Noncompliant states have been granted an extension to Oct. 10, 2018, to bring their licenses up to the standards.
 
Hilton's expansion plans for the region are still on full throttle. The company said it expects to have 220 hotels in operation in Asia Pacific by year's end, including the first Canopy by Hilton in the region. There are another 415 projects in the pipeline.