China steps up COVID-19 vaccination, considers differentiated visa policies
>> China had administered 74.96 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of March 20, adding 10 million more vaccinations in less in a week, as the country accelerates its inoculation drive with the aim to inoculate 40 percent of its 1.4 billion population by the middle of the year. Beijing is also considering implementing differentiated policies for visa issuance, flights and controls on the numbers of people arriving in China based on vaccination progress and the COVID-19 situations in the countries of origin. The country does not exempt vaccinated people from testing and isolation measures for the time being.
China to see 20% more weekly domestic flights than in 2019
>> Industry data shows that the number of China's weekly domestic flights will be much higher than the year before the epidemic, showing Chinese airlines are now turning to domestic demand for the industry's recovery. The overall weekly flights will reach 117,212, a year-on-year increase of 7.1 percent, of which domestic routes will grow significantly. China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines have the highest number of flights, exceeding 16,000 each.
Hyatt celebrates 1000th hotel opening, increases footprint in Asia Pacific
>> Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced the opening of Hyatt’s 1,000th hotel worldwide, Alila Napa Valley in St. Helena, California. The hotel chain is also increasing its footprint in Asia Pacific with more than 20 new properties slated to open in the region this year, including the Commune by the Great Wall hotel, a part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt in Beijing, China.
China wages another hotel comeback after brutal winter setbacks
>> Hotel occupancy rates in China averaged nearly 31% in early February compared to nearly 41% in the U.S., according to STR. However, Chinese hotel occupancy improved to 57% last week while the U.S. averaged 52%. JLL expects China's hotel revenues to reach between 70% and 80% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.
Startup Dash Living helps Hong Kong hotels switch to monthly leases
>> Dash Living, a Hong Kong co-living startup, is helping hotels switch to monthly leases to survive the unprecedented downturn in the city’s tourism sector. Dash’s link-up with hotels comes at a time when visitor arrivals in Hong Kong have all but dried up. The city's average hotel occupancy rate stood at 51% in January, compared with 59% a year earlier and 92% in January 2019.
Trip.com Group mimicks partner Tripadvisor with new content offerings
>> Trip.com Group is trying to diversify away from its over-reliance on transactions, particularly because the hotel discounting frenzy in China, and its dependence on airline ticket sales, lead to sub-par commission levels. Chairman James Liang said focusing on content creation and travel inspiration will attract new customers for Trip.com Group, entice them to engage more frequently, and spend more time on the company’s apps.
Trip.com launches new train booking features in South Korea
>> Trip.com launched a series of new train seat selection services in the South Korean market. Through the Trip.com app, passengers can now select their seats in advance for KTX, ITX and Mugunghwa-ho trains across the nation, encouraging safer travel whilst COVID-19 control measures remain in place.
Ride-sharing giant Didi reportedly considers IPO
>> China's ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing is reportedly considering an initial public offering as soon as the second quarter of this year, setting up another potentially big payday for SoftBank, the start-up’s largest investor. Didi is targeting a valuation north of its last round valuation of $62 billion.
China Development Bank fined for illegally facilitating HNA loan
>> China Development Bank, the country's biggest policy bank has been fined USD 6.6 million for illicitly providing a cross-border guarantee to a company linked to HNA Group.
Short-term rental development firm Passing Cloud raises $15 million
>> Passing Cloud, a company focused on the development of short-term lodging by cultural tourism projects in China, has closed a strategic funding round of at least USD 15 million (RMB 100 million).
China's first sea-crossing high-speed railway to be put into operation in 2022
>> The main towers of Meizhou Bay cross-sea bridge, one major section of China's first sea-crossing 350kmh high-speed railway connecting Fuzhou and Xiamen of East China's Fujian Province, has been capped and the railway is to be put into operation in 2022, China State Railway Group announced on Sunday.