Marriott opens all hotels in China, sees steady U.S. recovery: CEO

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FILE PHOTO: Arne Sorenson, the President and CEO of Marriott, participates in a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and tourism industry executives on coronavirus (COVID-19) response in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

(Reuters) – Marriott International (MAR.O) has reopened all its hotels in China and is seeing a steady recovery in the United States, its biggest market, Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said on Monday.

Shares of the hotel operator, which owns the Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis luxury brands, rose as much as 8.1% to $95.64 in afternoon trading after Sorenson said the occupancy rate in China was 40% currently, up from 7% to 8% in February, when COVID-19 started spreading.

“It’s not just leisure travel growing, but it is business travel. Chinese are flying again,” Sorenson said at a Goldman Sachs conference.

In the United States, Marriott’s hotels that remained open crossed the 20% occupancy threshold and continue to see an improvement, Sorenson said.

“The (U.S.) hotels that are performing strongest are those that are most dependent on drive to business.”

The company had an occupancy rate of about 12% in North America in April, with 16% of its hotels closed temporarily.

However, Sorenson warned that it could take Marriott a few years to get back to levels of occupancy seen in 2019, when its global occupancy rate was 71%.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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