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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Accor Group eyes Malaysia for Ibis Hotel

French multinational corporation, Accor Group is eyeing Malaysia for its economy hotel chain, Ibis Hotel, given the rising interest in the country as a top tourist destination in the region.

Ibis is Accor's economy hotel brand, which has expanded rapidly around the world and become the European market leader in the economy hotel industry and one of the five largest worldwide operators.

Currently, it has 800 hotels in 40 countries.

"Malaysia offers nature, cultural experience and great shopping which makes it a key destination for all the hoteliers, making sure they have presence not just inbound and outbound but being there," said Hiro Inoue, the director of marketing for Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen.

Besides being strategically located in the region, he said the country has become an attraction for tourists particularly from South Korea and Japan due to lower currency exchanges rates.

Beside Malaysia, Ibis has yet to have any presence in these countries in the Southeast Asia region namely Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

"We actually have had regular meetings with potential parties in Malaysia and have not gone to a point where we could announce where, how and when," he said in an interview recently.

However, Inoue said focus would likely be in areas where growing businesses are, such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

When asked what kind of partnership the group was looking at for the venture, he said there were various levels of business interest which could be achieved between the parties.

"We currently have a number of opportunities. I just can't discuss it yet," he said.

Inoue said some Ibis hotels are fully owned by Accor. particularly in strategic locations, some are through joint venture while others are managed hotels.

Under Ibis's worldwide expansion plan, it expects to have 1,100 hotels by next year in more than 70 countries across all five continents.

According to the plan, the Asia Pacific region, where 40 per cent of these new establishments will be opened, will be the main growth market for Ibis.

Late February this year, Accor opened its first hotel in Singapore, Ibis on Bencoolen, which is a joint venture between Accor and La Salle Investment Group.

The hotel which is also the largest Ibis hotel outside Europe, is 30 per cent owned by Accor while La Salle, which is also the developer, owns 70 per cent.

By Bernama

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