At least one hundred Victorian jobs are expected to be generated as the Malaysia-based global Tune Hotels opens its new 225-room hotel and operational headquarters in Melbourne later this year.
The new hotel, located on Swanston Street near the corner of Queensberry, is nearing completion and is expected to formally open in November.
According to the company's chief executive Mark Lancaster, the new Melbourne hotel is just the beginning of more Australia expansion projects. Also in the pipeline are 15 budget accommodations to be built nationwide in the next five years.
Tune Hotels is part of a consortium owned and controlled by Tune Group founder Tony Fernandes. The chain operates a total of 30 hotels in seven countries. Fernandes is also the CEO of budget airline Air Asia X which flies into some parts of Australia.
On Monday, Mr. Fernandes said they put up a regional office in Melbourne because they believe Australia is an important and viable location for their strategic investments.
"Like AirAsia, we'll just build as many as we can and see how far we can go," the CEO said.
Premier Dennis Napthine, meanwhile, gladly received the news of Tune Hotel's venture into the Australian market. He said more jobs can be created not just by the new hotel but also by the company's soon-to-open regional headquarters.
Mr. Napthine is currently leading a trade summit to attract at least 300 Victorian businesses to the region.
"There's every opportunity for the market to grow. This is a different segment of the market for tourism and travel," he said.
Many business observers liken Mr Fernandes' Tune Group to the Virgin Empire of British tycoon Richard Branson. They say it is the Asian counterpart of Mr. Branson's conglomerate, expanding from the airline business into hotel chain and insurance investments.
At present, Air Asia X flies only nine times a week into Melbourne. But Mr. Fernades disclosed plans to increase the number of flights to three or four times daily. Efforts are also underway to convince the Federal Government to allow direct flight services from Malaysia.
Mr. Fernandes likewise revealed that his group is keen on forming partnerships with Australia to expand his group's insurance business.