IHG says hotel demand ‘getting closer’ to pre-pandemic levels

InterContinental Hotel Group, the owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza chains, said that business was “getting closer to pre-pandemic levels” in 2021, as rising vaccination rates and easing of travel restrictions boosted demand for its hotel rooms.

The sector was affected by the spread of coronavirus and lockdowns that prevented travelers from visiting its hotels, but it has begun to rebound. IHG said its revenue per available room, the industry’s preferred metric, has returned to 70 per cent of 2019 levels.

Keith Barr, chief executive, said on Tuesday: “As vaccination rates rise and restrictions are lifted around the world, we are seeing the demand for travel increase. While there may be unexpected challenges ahead, we are confident in our ability to respond and adapt to what consumers and owners need. ”

Operating profit from reportable segments doubled from 2020 to 2021 to $ 534mn, slightly ahead of analysts’ estimates. Group operating profit was $ 494mn, bouncing back from a loss of $ 153mn in 2020.

Revenue per available room recovered strongly in the US, to 20 per cent below 2019 levels, while the company’s operations in Greater China and the Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions were down 29 per cent and 52 per cent on 2019 levels respectively.

Given the profit growth and a reduction in debt, Barr said the company would reinstate its dividend, suspended since 2019, with a payout of 85.9 cents per share.

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