Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hotel unfinished but nine in 10 rooms taken

The Straits Times
Sep 1, 2007

Demand for Link Hotel rooms even before official opening highlights room crunch
By Tania Tan

IT IS barely finished, but already, nine in 10 rooms at the Link Hotel have been taken.
There is still some way to go before its official opening next month and the second block is still being refurbished, but the hotel's guests are just glad to have rooms to lay down their heads at night.

Of the 150 rooms now available in the Tiong Bahru Road hotel, converted from the old Singapore Improvement Trust flats, 130 have been let out.

The demand for these rooms, priced at between $260 and $600 a night, kicked in even before the hotel's soft opening in mid-July, and it has consistently filled its rooms since then.
This thirst for rooms is just a sign of the boom times for hotels.

The hotel's executive assistant manager James Ting said travel agents were already calling him in June to secure rooms for their clients.

'There was definitely a big demand. The travel agents needed rooms,' he said.
And no wonder. July saw a record-breaking 951,000 visitors vying for the just over 36,000 hotel rooms available here.

Mr Ting, noting an increasing number of guests from India and China, said: 'They travel within Asia because it's familiar territory, and cheaper than Europe or America, so there's bigger demand now.'

Industry players have already been warning of a room crunch.

Mr Robert Khoo, who heads the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, has in fact gone as far as to say that the shortage in rooms could put a dampener on growth in tourist arrivals.

The Singapore Tourism Board has said it is working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority to monitor the supply of hotel rooms.

Since last August, contracts for nine hotel sites, which should yield about 3,100 rooms, have been awarded, among them, the Link Hotel.

And with next year's Formula One races expected to draw some 80,000 to 90,000 more revellers here, the room shortage situation is beginning to look acute.

Yesterday, the Minister of Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang said that the Government was aware of the situation and was 'looking at it'.

The agencies would release land, and with room rates going up, there would be more interest from developers, he said.

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