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Hong Kong protests hurt Holiday Inn-owner IHG, sees pain from virus outbreak

[BENGALURU] Holiday Inn-owner InterContinental Hotels Group reported on Tuesday a slight dip in annual room revenue, hurt by a fall in bookings in Hong Kong due to protests, and flagged short-term hit from the virus outbreak in China.

The company started to see an impact from the epidemic in late January as it closed or partially closed 160 out of its 470 hotels in China, Chief Executive Officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said.

IHG said last month it would allow customers to change or cancel stays scheduled up to Feb 3 in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at no additional cost. Airbnb said last week it has extended suspension of bookings in Beijing until April 30.

The outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed more than 1,800 people in mainland China.

The Crowne Plaza owner said comparable revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell 0.3 per cent globally and by 4.5 per cent in Greater China due to last year's protests in Hong Kong.

"It (Greater China) is though, a smaller part of our business overall, representing 15 per cent of our open rooms and less than 10 per cent of our operating profit," Mr Edgecliffe-Johnson said.

The company has been investing in China, its fastest-growing market, and has revamped rooms at Holiday Inns to woo local business travellers. It plans to open 393 hotels in China and operates four hotels in Wuhan.

Total revenue rose 6.7 per cent to US$4.63 billion for the year ended Dec. 31.

REUTERS