AQ hotels see occupancy rates plummet

AQ hotels see occupancy rates plummet

Food service during quarantine at Rattanakosin Hotel, an alternative quarantine hotel. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Alternative quarantine (AQ) hotels are enduring their lowest occupancy rates, amid signs that infection levels have peaked and speculation that the quarantine period could be reduced.

Prin Pathanatham, president of AQ Club Thailand, said booking trends fluctuated from April before the occupancy rate plummeted to 25-30% in August and September, which is the lowest point when compared with the best performance of more than 60% last year.

He said that despite people being able to take domestic flights from dark-red zones to other provinces since Sept 1, bookings from inbound travellers had not improved significantly.

International guests decided to postpone their plans when they heard about possible shorter quarantines from October, and some of them opted for the quarantine-free Phuket sandbox instead.

AQ Club Thailand has 144 AQ hotels, generating 16,000 rooms in Bangkok and its vicinity, of which 30% have become hospitels to serve Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.

Mr Prin said every such hotel was still running because AQ or hospitel facilities were the only way for such properties in Bangkok to generate revenue and support their workers.

According to a joint survey in August by the Thai Hotels Association and the Bank of Thailand, around 27% of 14 AQ hoteliers saw their revenue bounce back to more than 50% of normal income levels.

However, more hotels may have to close temporarily by next January if slow bookings for AQ facilities continue throughout the fourth quarter, Mr Prin said.

“If more people are fully vaccinated, guests at AQ hotels will decrease.”

“The government has to balance the reopening policy to both areas in the south and the country’s economic hub like Bangkok,” he said.

Mr Prin, who is also president of the Thailand Sandbox Club, pointed out that this new club would be pushing for reopening in areas including Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin.

The Thailand Sandbox Club focuses on supporting operators under the SHA Plus standard, such as procuring affordable antigen test kits for workers, while also asking the government to subsidise some costs.

Nattakorn Arunanondchai, managing director of Siam Mandarina Hotel, one of the AQ facilities, said bookings for October were very sluggish as people were waiting for quarantine rules to be relaxed.

As more destinations allowed in tourists, authorities could be convinced that reopening plans posed minimal risks. To proceed with the reopening timeline in October, Bangkok must accelerate vaccination of its population, he said.

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