US$42.7 billion in hotel development fuels Chinese tourism recovery

Pictured: rendering of Regent Shenzhen Bay.
The Chinese tourism industry bore the brunt of covid closures, but the country’s hotel developers are now helping to rally the sector as it posts a positive recovery.

The latest data from THP details that at least US$42.7 billion of upper segment hotel projects are planned for China over the coming years.

Inbound rebound

With the country’s covid travel restrictions lifted last January, its National Immigration Administration revealed that in the first half of 2023, there were 168 million arrivals and departures from the Chinese mainland, around 49% of the figure throughout the same period pre-pandemic in 2019.

The statistics show that of these arrivals and departures, about 74.9 million were made by residents from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan, while nearly 8.44 million were made by foreign travellers.

Domestic demand

The picture is even brighter for China’s domestic tourism market, as the China Tourism Academy expected figures to rebound to 90% of pre-pandemic levels this year, equivalent to 5.5 billion trips throughout the year.

The actual numbers seem to bear out this prediction, with research firm Statista reporting that approximately 2.38 billion domestic tourist trips were made in the first half of 2023.

Hotel hotspots

It is therefore no wonder that hotel firms are queuing up to develop Chinese sites, with THP records demonstrating that at least 1,410 high end projects, comprising 312,611 keys, are on the books.

Geographically, eastern coastal province Jiangsu looks like it is leading the pack, with a minimum of 148 planned hotel additions. Its southern neighbour Zhejiang comes next on 129, while the southern region of Guangdong makes the podium with 105 sites.

Drilling down further into individual cities, the east coast metropolis of Shanghai comes top with at least 70 upcoming properties; while Chengdu, the capital of  the central  Sichuan province, is in runners-up spot on 57; and Guangdong’s hub of Shenzhen is in third on 50.

New superiority

The vast majority of sites are newbuilds, 96% of the pipeline in fact, which equals 1,355 hotels at worst. This compares to just 31 refurbishments, 18 conversions and six extensions.

In terms of segment preference it is quite an even balance, with 54% of Chinese projects being upscale, that’s 763 properties, with the other 46%/647 hotels classified as luxury sites.

Near term timeframe

With accommodation demand steadily ramping up, hotel developments are aiming to speedily deliver, with a third of the pipeline due to complete in 2024, equating to a minimum of 459 projects. The pace is still fairly quick in 2025, with 256 deliveries slated, and 2026 is expecting another 158. There are 72 hotels earmarked to open before the end of this year too. The remaining 465 are either due further in the future or have yet to be designated a delivery date.

This haste is also reflected in the project phase data, as we see 66% of China’s high end hotel pipeline under construction, representing 929 builds. Another 84 sites are at a pre-opening stage. Further back in the process, 238 properties are in pre-planning, 109 are in pre-planning and 50 are in a vision phase.

Marriott majority

For upper segment hotel developments in China, THP data suggests that Marriott International is the major group with the most projects, on a minimum of 227. Second spot is taken by Hilton Worldwide with at least 175, while IHG Hotels & Resorts rounds out the top three with a minimum of 149.

Analysing individual brand plans, Marriott wins out here too, with its flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts planning at least 42 additions. IHG’s Hotel Indigo comes runner-up on a minimum of 39, with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Regency Hotels sharing third place on at least 37 apiece.

Notable projects

China is expecting some spectacular hotels, such as in IHG’s luxury line, Regent Hotels & Resorts. Regent Hotel Shenzhen Bay will be the brand’s tallest property when it completes in Q1 2028. Part of the Shenzhen Bay Super Headquarters development and designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the hotel will provide 175 rooms in three distinctive room types.

Within Marriott’s network, The Dali Edition will mark the Edition Hotels brand’s third property in China. Nestled on a hillside halfway up Cangshan Mountain, the property is expected to open in December 2025 within the northwestern Yunnan Province. Expected to offer 150 luxurious guestrooms including suites as well as villas with private pools, the hotel will boast four signature restaurants and bars, a swimming pool, a fitness centre, a spa, a recreational activities centre, as well as conference and event spaces including a 600 sq m outdoor lawn.