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NYU: CEOs positive on global outlook

Jonathan Tisch EDITED

By James Wilkinson at the NYU Conference in New York

Several of the world’s leading Hoteliers say business is good and the best news is that’s expected to continue throughout 2014.

Speaking yesterday [June 2 local time] at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York City, CEOs throughout the day said strong RevPAR growth in the United States and across the globe was fuelling solid performance.

“With the exception of locations that are impacted by political strife, there are remarkable RevPAR gains from across the world, “ said Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO J. Allen Smith. “Our business is really doing well.”

Starwood’s President and CEO, Frits van Paasschen, was similarly confident and said the luxury segment in particular had been a star.

“The growth for St Regis has been extraordinary,” he told the packed audience of just over 2000 delegates. “In the last six years we have more than doubled our footprint.

Van Paasschen said the changing face of the modern traveller had been a major influencer on that growth.

“The face of travel is increasingly more global, more diverse and younger than ever before,” he said.

“And luxury to today’s traveller is what they individually want and not what others percieve.”

Luxury aside, Van Paasschen said ‘road warriors’ were Starwood’s biggest customers and they were generating good business.

Loews Hotels Chairman Jonathan Tisch also said business travel had been a key to success for the industry.

“Demand is growing and both occupancy and average daily rates have been rising – both healthy signs,” he said.

“Business travel and group bookings continue slow and steady gains.

“These rising trends have driven strong employment gains across the travel sector.

“In fact, the travel industry as a whole has gained back all the jobs lost in the recession and then some – making us one of the few industries that can make that claim,” Tisch said.

He said in April, travel employment set another record, hitting nearly 8 million.

“The lucrative international travel market also continues to surge,” Tisch said. “Last year, an additional 52 million international tourists traveled the world – reaching a total of over 1 billion travelers [and] nearly 70 million of those travelers visited the United States.

“As you know, international travelers stay longer and spend more, benefiting our destinations, hotels and attractions… and boosting America’s balance of trade.

“As of April, travel exports were up 6.2 percent so far this year – nearly three times faster than the rise in other U.S. goods and services.

“So far in 2014, the travel industry has generated a $10 billion trade surplus… that’s a word you don’t hear very often in Washington these days,” Tisch said.

He said that data “creates a compelling picture of travel’s increasing importance in driving U.S. economic growth and job creation”.

“In fact, I think it’s fair to say that America’s service sector as a whole – led by travel – has almost single-handedly pushed the U.S. economy forward since the recession,” Tisch said.

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