Grand Ion Delemen Hotel Genting Highlands general manager Jack Lim said only 16,000-odd rooms were currently available at all hotels in Genting Highland combined, and there was still a shortage of 14,000 rooms to accommodate a huge influx of tourists to the popular hill resorts.

KUALA LUMPUR: HOTELS in Genting Highlands would need 30,000 rooms to cater to the demand from future tourists, especially when the outdoor theme park starts operation by next year2020.

Grand Ion Delemen Hotel Genting Highlands general manager Jack Lim said only 16,000-odd rooms were currently available at all hotels in Genting Highland combined, and there was still a shortage of 14,000 rooms to accommodate a huge influx of tourists to the popular hill resorts.

“Currently, we are very far behind. We anticipate a huge influx of visitors to come once the outdoor theme park is completed,” he told the New Straits Times in an interview recently.

The outdoor theme park in Genting Highlands could attract an additional two to 2.5 million visits per year, adding on to the 25 million visitations received in 2017, said Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd.

The research house also expects the outdoor theme park to help increase the overall spending by the younger crowd, who prefer to spend more on-gaming-related activities in Genting Highlands.

Breaking down the numbers, Lim said once the theme park becomes operational, Genting Highlands would see an equal breakdown of 50 per cent “day-trippers” and 50 per cent staying visitors.

Grand Ion Delemen, a member of NCT Group of Companies (NCT Group) and operated by Ion Delemen Hospitality Sdn Bhd, is a popular resort located at 6,000 feet above sea level, offering spectacular mountain views of Titiwangsa Range from 6,000 feet above sea level.

On future plans, Lim said NCT Group is currently building a 1,800-room hotel right next to Grand Ion Delemen.

The hotel, Grand Ion Majestic, is slated for completion in 2023. Combined, both Ion Delemen and Ion Majestic will have close to 3,000 rooms.

When asked on target market, Lim said the hotel markets mainly targets at tourists for its product and services were mainly to market its product and services from India, Indonesia and emerging countries, but not too much at those from China market.

“Focusing on the Chinese tourist market is a bit risky for hotel operators... We don’t put all our eggs in one basket, so to speak. The India market is something we are aggressively looking at now, which is actually leading the Chinese market in our hotel.

“New emerging markets like Vietnam and Cambodia areis also showing promising markets for us to tap. These are the markets we are looking. We feel the Indian and Indonesian markets are quite huge and provide good market for us to tap,” he said.

Lim said last year, the occupancy rate of India tourists was at 20 per cent, China tourists at 10 per cent while the rest was made of are locals and Singaporeans.

He said most of the China travellers coming to Genting Highlands are day-trippers who that they stayed in hotels in the Kuala Lumpur city centre. They travelled to Genting Highlands in the morning and went back to the city by 7pm.

“The Middle Eastern market is seasonal, which we see peaking from June to September while the European market is also quite promising as well.

“We have also put focus on the local Malay market, leveraged by our halal certification and product offerings. Currently, the local markets accounts attributes to about 60 per cent of our occupancy rate,” he said.

Lim said this year, the corporate market had improved tremendously.

“We have two target markets... whereby for weekdays we go for the government and corporate sectors on weekdays, and for weekends we go for leisure during weekends,” he said.

When asked on the challenges, Lim said Genting Highlands was in short supply of rooms during the weekends but in oversupply over the weekdays, and this was something hotel operators in Genting Highlands should address.

He said hoteliers in Genting Highland must be firm on rates in order not to fall into the Kuala Lumpur hotel rate trap.

“All Genting Highlands hotels need to be firm on the rates in order to command better yield.

“When low occupancy is low and yield is high, hotel operators won’t suffer that much. In fact, we are considering in pushing up the rates for our hotel to sustain our earnings,” he said.

On partnerships, Lim said Ion Delemen have partnered with AirAsia under their Big Loyalty Programme whereby members can stay at the hotel and gain loyalty points.

“We are also working with Resorts World under for its loyalty point programme and also looking at possibilities of working with ride e-hailing service provider Grab in the near future,” he said.