by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 08, 2019

At the 15th Hotel Investment Conference South Asia, which took place last week at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai in India, Marriott International announced its 2020 vision for Asia Pacific, an aggressive expansion plan that includes growing its footprint by 40 percent, which would give the company 1,000 hotels in the region by 2020 across all of its 30 brands.

The plan, said Marriott, could create up to 50,000 more job opportunities for the Asia Pacific region. In 2019 alone, the company expects to add close to 100 new hotels representing as much as 20,000 rooms in the region, with several big brands debuting in Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Nepal and India. Marriott International's portfolio in Asia Pacific currently encompasses more than 710 properties in 23 countries and territories.

"The breadth and depth of Marriott International's footprint means that we are able to offer travelers opportunities to experience more destinations, brands and experiences, especially through Marriott Bonvoy, our industry-leading travel program," said Craig S. Smith, president and managing director of Marriott International Asia Pacific, speaking at the conference.

"As important as our size is our commitment to deliver seamless and quality experiences for our guests at on-brand properties," Smith continued. "Today's traveler demands authentic, personalized and transformative experiences, whether for work or for pleasure, as a way of broadening their individual horizons and achieving a deeper understanding of the world. As the world's leading hospitality company, it is in our DNA to strive to be part of our guests' favorite moments and memories. We are dedicated to Marriott International remaining Asia Pacific's favorite travel company."

China, India and Southeast Asia have been identified by Marriott as its growth drivers in the region, where it believes it can capitalize on global travel trends, namely the fact that these countries represent destinations with the largest populations and increasing numbers of travelers. China, in particular, continues to be at the core of Marriott's Asia Pacific expansion, with more than 300 hotels in the pipeline, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the company's projects in the region. This year alone, Marriott is on target to open more than 30 hotels in China, including the first JW Marriott Marquis property there, the 515-room JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Shanghai Pudong, and the first Renaissance hotel in the Fujian province with the planned opening of Renaissance Xiamen Resort & Spa in the fourth quarter of 2019. Outside of mainland China, the St. Regis brand is set to debut later this month with the opening of the 129-room St. Regis Hong Kong in the city's historic Wanchai district.

With its 100th Marriott hotel milestone celebrated in 2018, India continues to be the company's second-fastest growth engine in Asia Pacific with more than 50 properties in the pipeline. Marriott expects to have more than 30,000 new guest rooms open in India by the end of 2023. Given India's robust economy and rising middle class, the country continues to present an exciting growth opportunity for Marriott in both the select-service, upper-upscale and luxury sectors. The company expects to debut the Tribute Portfolio brand in India with the opening of the 56-room Port Muziris, Kochi, slated to open in the second quarter of this year.

At the recent ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Tourism Forum, the ASEAN National Tourism Organizations revealed their collective efforts in marketing initiatives to inspire travel to the region. Marriott International currently has over 140 signed hotels in its Southeast Asia pipeline, primarily in Indonesia, to meet the growing demands of travel and tourism. In the Philippines, the company expects to more than triple its hotel portfolio by 2023. Sheraton, Marriott International's most global brand, debuted in January with the opening of the 390-room Sheraton Manila Hotel.

Marriott continues its growth momentum in the Pacific region, with 50 hotels anticipated to be open by 2020. Australia is poised to see several brand debuts in coming years, including the Luxury Collection and Ritz-Carlton. The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is expected to open in Hobart in late 2019, and the 205-room Ritz-Carlton Perth is slated to open in June 2019. Element Hotels, Marriott's eco-conscious brand, is expected to debut in Australia with the opening of Element Melbourne Richmond in the third quarter of this year.