Hotels pin hopes on Bangkok revival

Hotels pin hopes on Bangkok revival

Travel resumes at Suvarnabhumi airport following the end of a ban on domestic flights on Sept 1. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Hotels hope the reopening of Bangkok in October and domestic stimulus campaigns will boost the occupancy rate from single digits to 15-20% in the upcoming high season.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said tourism operators support the idea of easing entry regulations through a quarantine-free programme for inoculated tourists as this is the only way to aid hotel businesses, particularly in Bangkok.

However, hotel operators don’t expect the reopening scheme to immediately draw a massive flow of tourists to the country as some restrictions remain in many countries.

She said hotels in Bangkok should have an average occupancy rate of 15-20% during the last three months this year, yet the upcoming high season remains unpredictable because Thailand in the early stages may attract mostly returning guests who are familiar with the country or have relatives or friends here.

Current entry regulations mandate inbound travellers stay only at SHA (Safety and Health Administration) Plus hotels, which should generate income for hotels in the capital, but facilities cannot hold big events or seminars because of rules against social gatherings.

Bangkok does not yet have any SHA Plus hotels certified, which are issued to hotels with verified safety and health administration standards that have more than 70% of workers vaccinated.

Mrs Marisa said the application process opened recently and most Bangkok hotels could enrol for this certification without a problem as they were previously certified for SHA standards and many of their workers have already received two doses of vaccines.

“The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on both business stability and the mentality of our workers over the past 18 months, as they don’t know when they can return to their jobs and earn a living. The reopening plan is a beacon of hope for them,” she said.

Hotel operators would also like the government to start the domestic subsidy campaigns — “We Travel Together” and “Tour Teaw Thai” — earlier than Oct 15 to let tourists book their hotels and tour packages during national holidays in the second week of the month.

“If the hotel and tour subsidies can start on Oct 10, it will persuade more travellers to take long holiday trips that week, creating good momentum for hotels and accelerating hiring in the sector,” Mrs Marisa said.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said those two stimulus programmes will open for registration on Sept 24 and can be used for travel from Oct 15.

The cabinet approved the schemes in the first quarter, but they were delayed because of the emergence of the current wave of the pandemic.

We Travel Together, which subsidises 40% of hotel prices, is scheduled roll out its third phase with a budget of 5.98 billion baht, while the new Tour Teaw Thai, offering tour package subsidies of 40%, has a budget of 5 billion.

The first two phases of We Travel Together have generated 26 billion baht for the local tourism economy since last year.

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