Unless in a trance anyone walking around ITB’s gargantuan Messe hall cannot miss the promos for India (the official partner country for this year’s ITB). And if a visitor did sleepwalk your way around, the relentless commercials on just about any channel in the hotel room ensure there is yet another opportunity to get more than a glimpse of India’s many tourist spots. Hotel developers are taking note and in the follow-on development conference in Berlin, India will be front and center in almost any discussion. But the development story that, thus far, remains untold is Cambodia. With its fabled Angkor Vat, a temple built in Angkor (Siem Reap airport) in the 12th century is a nominee for the title of “new seven wonders of the world”, the tourism graph for Cambodia is on a vertiginous climb. Siem Reap, where the Angkor Vat is located already has a few of the big names, Le Meridien, Sofitel and Raffles but no internationally recognized four or three star brand, a segment that is sorely needed as the numerous unaffiliated hotels fall woefully short in meeting standards for international tourists. Unsurprisingly, in 2006 US tourist arrivals at 60,000 are in second place after South Korea (148,000).
For developers less inclinded to cross the seven seas, the Wall Street Journal of March 7th reports on a new Klondike in Quincy, Washington where Yahoo and other internet companies are feverishly establishing operations in this heretofore unknown little town. The article breathlessly notes that “developers have filed plans for upwards of 1,000 new homes and a strip mall that would include a hotel and the town’s first movie theater. Land prices have as much as quintupled over the past year and apartment rents have jumped as much as 50%”. That’s only one hotel in a town that has close to nothing – unlikely to remain that way for long.