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Marriott to open 50 hotels in India

Marriott International Inc. plans to operate about 50 hotels in India within five years as the U.S. company seeks to benefit from a large and growing economy.

Bethesda-based Marriott will add properties in India despite challenges that include poor infrastructure, expensive financing and a cumbersome bureaucratic process, Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said today in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Marriott has about 24 hotels in India and 40 in the pipeline, according to its website.

“While we’re extremely optimistic about the future of India as a destination — both because of the size of its economy and the likelihood that its economy will grow — India needs to really continue to develop infrastructure and to simplify the development process,” he said.

Hotel chains are expanding in Asia and Latin America to take advantage of increased travel in emerging-market countries. Marriott has about 150 properties in the Asia-Pacific region and more than 200 in the pipeline, according to its website.

In China, where Marriott has about 70 properties, the company could have more than 150 hotels within five years, Sorenson said.

“We’re opening a hotel every two weeks in China, we love China as a market,” he said. “There’s a lot of press about China’s growth rate slowing a bit. While that is undoubtedly true as China moves toward a consumer economy, it will help industries like travel.”

Marriott on Tuesday said the company may expand its properties in the Middle East and Africa by more than 75 percent, and could increase its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean by almost 50 percent.