Jumeirah Group is expanding its hotels portfolio in China, reflecting the country’s demand for luxury services and the effect of growing numbers of Chinese visitors to the UAE.
The Dubai-based hotel group behind the Burj Al Arab on Thursday announced management agreements to operate three hotels and resorts in Haikou, Wuhan and Nanjing.
Financial details of the agreements were not disclosed.
The Jumeirah Haikou Resort, on the island of Hainan at China’s southernmost tip, is set to open in 2018.
Jumeirah Wuhan, designed by Foster and Partners and scheduled to open in 2020, will be centrally located near the city’s Hankou business district.
Both properties are owned by subsidiaries of Yuexiu Group, a Guangzhou-based property development company.
Jumeirah Nanjing, designed by the architect Zaha Hadid, will be located in the city’s new Hexi business district, an hour’s train ride from Shanghai. The development is expected to open in 2016.
“We are delighted to be expanding our portfolio of hotels and resorts in China, which is a significant market for Jumeirah,” said Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah Group’s chief executive.
Jumeirah, part of Dubai Holding, opened its first hotel on the Chinese mainland – The Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel Shanghai – in 2011.
The group is also lining up developments in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Sanya, Macau and Qiandaohu.
Jumeirah’s increased investment in China comes as the country’s economic growth fuels a massive demand for luxury goods and services, said Filippo Sona of Colliers International in Dubai.
“China is the fastest-growing hotels market in the world, with a new big luxury hotel opening almost daily,” he said.
“For a luxury hotel operator it’s a must-be-there scenario, given the huge amount of wealth in the country.”
China’s accelerating export growth and slowing inflation mean that it will displace the United States as the world’s biggest business-travel market by 2016, according to a study from the Global Business Travel Association.
The expansion of the Jumeirah brand in China also serves to attract Chinese business travellers and tourists to the company’s resorts in Europe and the Middle East, said Mr Sona.
“The Chinese are the fastest-growing segment of tourists to the UAE, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi attracting a lot of visitors from places such as Shanghai and Hong Kong,” he said.
“Brand recognition is very important, so when you have your brand well-represented in key locations in China, that will have a mirroring effect that will attract Chinese travellers to their portfolio in the Middle East and Europe.”
Dubai was the third-most popular tourist destination for wealthy Chinese behind Australia and France last year, up from eighth place the previous year.
China was the sixth-largest source market for visitors to Dubai during the first half of this year, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
Chinese visitors to Dubai grew by 26 per cent in the first half of the year, attributable in part to targeted campaigns to take advantage of greater numbers of Chinese travellers, according to the DTCM.
About 45,760 Chinese guests checked in to hotels in Abu Dhabi in the first four months of this year, up by 232 per cent from same period last year, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.
The Chinese cosmetics company Nu Skin was largely responsible for the spike, as 16,500 sales agents descended on the emirate in April for a mass junket.
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