FRENCH hotel group AccorHotels bid AUD1.18 billion (US$920 million) for Mantra Group Ltd in a deal that would combine the two biggest hotel owners in Australia.
Accor is currently the biggest hotel group in Australia, and when sealed, the acquisition could further capitalize on the country’s surging tourism industry.
“They haven’t lowballed it, that’s for sure,” Anthony Porto, portfolio manager at Martin Currie Australia, which owns a stake in Mantra, told Reuters.
Together, Accor and Mantra would own over 300 hotels and about 50,000 rooms. That would give them roughly 11 percent of Australia’s hotel market, according to IBISWorld statistics.
Accor’s bid comes at a time when the country’s hoteliers rush to build extra rooms to meet growing demand. The number of visitors to Australia surged nine percent in the past financial year to hit a record 7.9 million while spending by international visitors climbed to US$40.6 billion.
Visits from Chinese tourists – who tend to make longer trips and spend more – jumped 10 percent. Last year, over 1.2 million Chinese visited Australia, making up a significant portion of Australia’s tourism market.
To put it into context, out of the US$30 billion overseas visitors spent in Australia over the past year, almost US$7 billion or 23 percent is attributed to Chinese tourists.
For the first time this year, the Chinese are projected to surpass Kiwis who traditionally make up Australia’s biggest inbound tourist market.
In other news, AccorHotels recently acquired a 50 percent stake in long-distance passenger train service Orient Express. The buy-out will see the group developing a new collection of luxury hotels under Orient Express, and will even develop a new use for them as a setting for events.
Additional reporting by Reuters