Industry Update
Press Release24 August 2020

HVS Asia Pacific Hospitality Newsletter - Week Ending 21 August 2020

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Vantone Acquired Queen's Hotel in Sai Ying Pun for HKD310 Million at 30% Discount

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China-based Vantone Holdings ("Vantone") acquired the 23-storey Queen's Hotel in Sai Ying Pun district for HKD310 million (USD40 million), trading at 30% discount from the asking price when the property was put on the market in May 2020. It was the company's first acquisition in Hong Kong since its 10% stake of Vantone Real Estate unit was sold to a Singapore-based warehouse operator, Global Logistics Properties, in February 2019. Located at 199 Queen's Road West, the hotel was formerly an office tower and spans 2,488 square metres. Recently, Vantone shifted its focus from its traditional business of developing condos for sale in mainland China to investing in properties. The plan after the acquisition has not been declared, yet it is believed that the property is well suited for conversion to a serviced apartment or co-living facility, considering the nearby University of Hong Kong. With proximity to Hong Kong's commercial centre, Sai Ying Pun has been evolving and gaining attraction from major developers in Hong Kong including Tai Hung Fai Enterprise and Robert Kuok's Kerry Properties.

Singapore Announced Additional SGD8 Billion Covid-19 Support Measures and Another SGD320 Million to Boost Tourism Sector

On 17 August 2020, the Singapore government unveiled additional measures worth SGD8 Billion to support workers and firms amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Job Support Scheme ("JSS") will be extended for another seven months to March 2021. Under the JSS, the hardest-hit aerospace, aviation, and tourism sectors will receive 50% support for wages. Arts and entertainment, food services and retail, land transport, marine and offshore will get 30% support while the rest of the sectors at 10% support. The scheme had originally been set to end in August, with a final payout to firms in October. In addition, the government will allocate SGD1 billion as part of the Job Growth Incentive for firms to hire local workers. The government will also set aside SGD320 million (USD233 million) in tourism credits to encourage its citizens to participate in the SGD45 million SingapoRediscovers domestic tourism campaign launched last month. The tourism credits, also called SingapoRediscovers Vouchers, will act as an indirect form of discounting for businesses as some had provided feedback that a huge drop in prices would be difficult to sustain with capacity limits in place.

Indonesia to Establish Travel Corridor for Essential Business and Diplomatic Trips with South Korea

Indonesia and South Korea have agreed to establish a travel corridor to facilitate essential business and diplomatic trips between the two countries amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Retno Marsudi, revealed that plans for the travel corridor had been finalised with South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister, Kang Kyung-wha, on 12 August 2020. According to Retno Marsudi, the essential business travel corridor arrangement with South Korea will be inaugurated on 17 August 2020. The date also coincides with Indonesia's 75th Independence Day. Per the agreement, only essential industry stakeholders and state officials may use the travel corridor. Kang Kyung-wha has mentioned that with the agreement, leeway was expected to be granted to state departments and businesses from both countries, allowing them to reconnect and resume projects that had been halted due to the pandemic while still complying with health procedures.

India Announces USD500 Million Assistance for Major Connectivity Project in Maldives

India will fund the implementation of a major connectivity project in Maldives through a USD400 million line of credit and USD100 million grant. The 6.7-kilometres Greater Male Connectivity Project ("GMCP") will be the largest infrastructure project in Maldives, connecting Male with three neighbouring islands, namely Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi. The GMCP project will include construction of a bridge-and-causeway link. The Ministry of External Affairs stated that the completion of the project will increase connectivity between the four islands, thereby boosting economic activity, generating employment and promoting holistic urban development. The government also announced the launch of cargo ferry services and air travel bubble between the two nations. In addition, India has pledged to provide financial support for the construction of a port in Gulhifahu and USD250 million to support the Maldives in its economic recovery amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

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