REITs investors looking for promising embers from 2013 onwards may wish to consider the Singapore hospitality sector. Despite retail spending projections and consumer sentiments being revised downwards, visitor arrivals in the city-state is expected to continue on an upward albeit gentle trajectory over the next couple of years.

Far East Hospitality Trust (Far East H-Trust) Oasia Hotel
Far East H-Trust's Oasia Hotel is strategically located in the centre of Singapore's premier medical hub in the effort to ride on increasing medical tourism numbers.

The Singapore Tourism Board has forecasted an increase in visitors into the country all the way till 2015 when tourist arrivals are expected to hit its target of 17 million. Supporting this forecast is the continued strength of the economies in the Asia-Pacific region including Indonesia and China, Singapore's two major sources of tourist arrivals. Growing economies and rising disposal income in the region has bolstered demand in Singapore for leisure travel and medical tourism - areas that Hospitality REITs such as Far East Hospitality Trust (Far East H-Trust) are well-postured to benefit from.

Far East H-Trust is a Singapore-focused hotel and serviced residence hospitality trust with a portfolio of 11 properties totalling 2,531 hotel rooms. Its latest unveil is the Oasia Hotel located strategically right in the middle of Singapore's premier medical hub. The Trust recently reported a higher than expected income available for distribution of S$33.6 million, beating forecasts by 4.5%. It has attributed the strong numbers to contribution from its hotel properties.

But these promising figures come with a caveat - lingering uncertainties over the European economy. Hospitality REITs in the country running serviced residences have felt the effects of multinational corporations scaling back on expatriate staff located overseas. Far East H-Trusts has indicated that its lower than forecasted gross revenue for the reporting period above was due to a softer demand for its serviced residences in Singapore.

The share of business travellers as a percentage of total visitors to Singapore is expected to increase from 34.4% in 2011 to 40.1% by 2015.

By Ridzwan Rahmat

Ridzwan has been analysing REITs and business trusts since 2008, and personally manages a portfolio comprising mainly of SGX-listed REITs. He founded REITsWeek in 2013.