19,000 keys set to boost recovering Malaysian tourist industry

Pictured: rendering of Hilton Burau Bay Resort Langkawi. Imagery © 2022 Hilton.
A robust high end hotel pipeline of at least 19,313 rooms will help Malaysian tourism back on its feet, according to the latest data from THP.

The southeast Asian nation is slowly recovering from the pandemic’s hit, with international arrivals starting to rebound after it welcomed them back last year.

On the journey

As reported by Tourism Malaysia, global travellers heading to the country reached nearly 10.1 million in 2022, with borders opening on 1 April and covid entry restrictions subsequently being dropped in August.

While this equates to a 7,375% increase from 2021’s 0.1 million arrivals, it’s still 61% down on the last fully representative year, 2019, which totalled 26.1 million worldwide tourists.

Surpassing targets

However, the 2022 figures surpassed the Malaysian government’s initial target of 9.2 million international tourists and the aim for this year is to get the total to 16.1 million.

The top origins for foreign arrivals last year were concentrated mostly in neighbouring nations, with Singapore heading the list on 5.2 million, followed by Indonesia on 1.5 million, Thailand on 700,000, India with 325,000 and Brunei on 302,000.

Hotel supply

Existing hotel stock in Malaysia dipped a little during the pandemic from 5,382 sites comprising 340,547 keys in 2019 to 5,339 hotels of 332,817 collectively in 2020, then 5,170 properties totalling 323,491 keys in 2021, according to the latest statistics from Tourism Malaysia.

Therefore with THP noting that at least 65 further high end hotels will join the fray in the next few years, this should help the hotel supply to meet the rising demands for tourism. A minimum of US$2.3 billion in investment will bring these projects to fruition.

Capital requirements

Capital city Kuala Lumpur still leads the way on development, with at least 23 premium projects in the pipeline. Penang and Kota Kinabalu share the runners up position on six sites each.

Upscale hotels have the upper hand in development, with 62% of the high end pipeline, which is equivalent to 40 projects. The remaining 38%/25 sites are five stars.

Swift openings are the order of the day, with 22 scheduled for this year and 16 for next. 2025 currently has five premium hotels on the slate, 2026 will see a further two and 2027 another three. The remaining 17 projects are yet to be designated a delivery date.

Group guides

In terms of leading hotel groups, The Ascott heads the list for planned premium Malaysian hotels, with at least 14 in the pipeline. IHG Hotels & Resorts is hot on its heels with at least 10 sites, with Hilton Worldwide in third on six.

For individual brands, The Ascott’s Citadines apart’hotels is top on at least seven, while the group’s Somerset Serviced Residence and Harris Hotels are two of the joint runners-up on at least three projects, alongside IHG’s Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International’s Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.

Projects to watch

One major development underway is Hilton Burau Bay Resort Langkawi. Scheduled to open in Q2 2024, the 251-room resort will be Hilton Worldwide’s second property in Langkawi.

Located in Burau Bay along Langkawi’s western coastline, the resort enjoys a 600-m beachfront view of the Straits of Malacca. The hotel will feature an executive lounge and five dining concepts including an all-day dining restaurant, a specialty restaurant and a pool bar. Wellness facilities comprise the eforea spa, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness centre, basketball and tennis courts. The property will also offer an events space spanning approximately 800 sq m, and a ballroom of approximately 400 sq m.

Plus one of the many capital city projects is Kempinski Hotel 8 Conlay & Residences Kuala Lumpur. The 260-key Kempinski hotel and branded Kempinski Residences with 300 units will anchor the 8 Conlay skyscraper development, together with up to 1,092 units of 8 Conlay Residences serviced by Kempinski in two adjoining towers, all linked via a central retail podium. Delivery is planned for Q2 2025.