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Major expansion planned for Accor in New Zealand

Travel News Asia 25 May 2004

Accor will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary in New Zealand, with plans to double its network in the next three years.

The company currently operates 14 hotels across its Novotel, Mercure and Ibis brands in key business and tourism centres including Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua, Hamilton, Queenstown and the Coromandel Peninsula and has announced aggressive expansion plans that include the management of more than 12 new hotels over the next few years.

Developments currently under-way or in final planning will add a further 1200 rooms, and will see all of Accor's major brands operating in the New Zealand marketplace. These include:

* Hotel Ibis Christchurch
* Hotel Ibis Rotorua
* Novotel Tauranga
* Novotel Palmerston North
* Mercure Hotel Dunedin
* Sofitel Queenstown
* Formule 1 Auckland
* Formule 1 Wellington

In addition, Accor is actively negotiating for a new Novotel in Christchurch and an upmarket boutique hotel in Blenheim, in the heart of the premier winemaking region of Marlborough.

Accor announced today its first hotel in Christchurch, a 160-room Ibis hotel that will be built in the centre of the city at Cathedral Square. It will be the first new hotel built in Christchurch for over a decade.

Projects currently under construction and set to be managed by Accor in the next 12 months include a 140-room Ibis in Rotorua, a 96-room Novotel in Palmerston North and the first Sofitel in New Zealand, with the five-star luxury brand to open in Queenstown in June 2005 with an 83 all-suite hotel.

An agreement has also been signed to build a 120-room Novotel in the city centre on a site owned by the city council, which will be Tauranga's first international hotel.

Accor's successful budget hotel brand, Formule 1, is also scheduled to make its debut in New Zealand, planned in 2005 for Auckland and Wellington. Sites have already been chosen for this purpose.

In addition, Base Backpackers has launched the most comprehensive network of hostels in the country, including Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

"We see New Zealand as one of the region's most vibrant and resilient tourism and hospitality markets," said Accor's General Manager New Zealand, Neil Scanlan. "Not only was New Zealand less affected by the global tourism downturn of 2002-3, but it has achieved an important market position thanks to its image as a safe, friendly and very attractive destination that offers excellent value for money.

"The increase in air access, especially from new low-cost carriers, has seen vast increases in demand for mid-market and economy style accommodation, and this is the direction of Accor's development strategy in New Zealand."

Latest inbound figures highlight this point, with New Zealand recording a 23% increase in inbound visitors in April 2004 compared to April 2003. Australian arrivals were up 29 per cent. Tourism New Zealand said it was the largest month-on-month increase in 12 years and the best April on record.

While the figures were skewed because of the early effects of SARS on the 2003 figures, most of New Zealand's major markets from Asia have recovered to pre-SARS levels with Japan showing a 13% increase in April 2004 and the sensitive American market up 17.4%.

"Accor has a proven record in New Zealand which has allowed our network to grow quickly as hotel owners look for more professional management of their properties," said Neil Scanlan, Accor's General Manager New Zealand.

"Just as in Australia, Accor now has all major tourist and business destinations in New Zealand covered and we will continue to grow the network strategically to ensure that no matter where people travel in New Zealand they will find an Accor hotel to suit their needs."

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