China signs trade agreement with Australia, plans new hotel development

In one of many changes coming to the Australian hotel space, Chinese president Xi Jinping is visiting the country to reveal plans for a $200 million hotel development. According to Stuff.co, the 200-room property is being constructed by Beijing-based developer Fu Wah, and the briefing will reveal who is in line to operate the hotel.

On top of revealing a new hotel, Jinping will be discussing an Australia-China free trade agreement with Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott. As part of the agreement, 90 percent of Australian exports to China will be tariff-free, while Australian service providers in sectors such as banking, tourism, education and healthcare will receive greater access to the Chinese market. 

Chinese visitors to Australia have grown from roughly 100,000 in 2009 to over 230,000 in 2013. In light of this, TTG Asia reported Australia will be granting visas for up to 5,000 Chinese workers annually, while up to 1,800 Chinese workers will be eligible for 457 work visas.

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"Australia’s hotel and tourism sector will benefit from increased investment via the new Investment Facilitation Arrangements, while education-related travel to Australia will be significantly boosted as a result of new measures announced as part of the agreement,” Carol Giuseppi, acting CEO for Tourism Accommodation Australia, told TTG Asia.

In another Australia development, Hilton Worldwide Holdings is looking to unload the Hilton Sydney Hotel in Australia, and is seeking as much as $349 million for the property. 

Bloomberg reported that Hilton is working with Jones Lang LaSalle to find a buyer for the hotel, and the sale is expected to be completed as early as mid-2015. Hilton plans to continue managing the 579-room property after the sale. 

“It is business as usual at Hilton Sydney,” Katrina Jones, a London-based spokeswoman for Hilton Worldwide, told Bloomberg in an e-mail. She declined to comment on the property sale.

This deal follows a major Australia sale that took place in September, when the Charter Hall Group led a consortium in the purchase of a $603-million hotel property portfolio from Woolworths subsidiary ALH Holdings. 

The portfolio contained assets across Australia, including the Croxton Park Hotel and Manhattan Hotel in Victoria, the Villa Noosa Hotel and Parkwood Tavern in Queensland, the Hyde Park Hotel in Western Australia and the Norwood Hotel in South Australia.

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