India has abundant opportunities
Ho said that India is second-fastest growing market for them and fourth-largest marketplace globally for Starwood. He added that interestingly India will replace Canada to become the third-fastest growing country by the end of 2015. Starwood is set to open eight new properties in India out of planned 36 hotels in Asia-Pacific.
While comparing China and India, Ho said that both the markets hold importance in their way. However, India has immense potential given the urbanization has just started in the country. He projected that India can easily become a destination for over 30 million tourists in the coming years. Over and above this, the government's initiatives such as Visa on arrival will boost the travel industry, Ho added. Starwood currently runs 49 hotels in the country, and another 40 are under construction.
Aim to get to 100 hotels
Meanwhile, Ho expressed hope that they will meet the target of operating 100 hotels this year. He said that higher interest rates and the requirement for multiple approvals acted as barriers to open hotels in India. Ho emphasized that the government should act to streamline the approval process and increase tourism base, which coupled with lower borrowing cost will help greater penetration in India.
Commenting on the supply glut, Ho said that demand is picking up in many cities. He said that the ratio of domestic guests is also accelerating day by day in China, Australia, and Japan. India is expected to catch the same trend, said Ho, who added that the domestic travelers are on a rise in both leisure and business segments.